Our Thinking

Real World or Digital

Despite the near-ubiquity of Social Media, you can’t say hello to your Starbucks barista there.  You can’t see your team’s body language during a meeting.  You can’t celebrate with friends and family in real-time.  Everything seems to be in 2D – at best a reflection of what is happening in the real world.

Interestingly, this provides a clue as to how Social Media can be used by sophisticated marketers – and how opportunity is lost by many others.  At its essence, digital marketing can be boiled down to three basic strategies:

1) Real World amplification:  This strategy looks at real-world activities, and asks the question of how Social Media can be used to amplify the impact of that activity online.  Examples:

  • A conference speaker who continues the conversation after the event within a LinkedIn group, or answers questions after the session using Twitter.
  • An instruction manual that includes links to YouTube how-to videos.

2) Driving from Digital:  This strategy lives online and drives activity to the real world.  Examples:

  • A customer service monitoring to identify customer issues, and then initiating a phone call, visit, or other types of one-to-one communication.
  • Participation in an industry forum to identify sales leads.
  • Tweets that are designed to drive traffic to a retail location.

3)  Social-only:  This approach builds a social-only community, with a goal of building out a network of influence online.  The challenge with this strategy, however, is that unless the organization has a substantial online business, the rationale for investment in this area is sometimes difficult.  Some examples of where this strategy makes sense:

  • Blogging for the purpose of collecting followers, likes, comments, and shares; the ultimate goal is to increase the organization’s profile.
  • A marketplace site that matches buyers and sellers:  procurement marketplaces, Online-only stores (eg Amazon), even dating sites.

This week’s action item:  The best marketing plans are not either-or.  This week, look at your existing marketing plans and make sure that you have all three strategies addressed.