Feature

Digital Academy: Practical matters - How can I use social media in my direct marketing?

Direct marketing in social media requires a shift in mindset from telling customers about products to encouraging them to have conversations about products that are relevant to them.


THE LOYALTY EXPERT

Mark Sage, loyalty director, Carlson Marketing

"Brands tend to use social media as an advertising medium, creating brand profile pages or sponsored links, when the value is really in its social element.

Before now, it's been challenging to create ways for a brand to link people together, with most attempts focusing on viral content. This has changed with the introduction of widgets - small applications within a user's social network homepage.

Facebook's widgets have turned social media on its head by enabling people to interact with others using common functionality, sharing preferences, or just posting messages. Google has now followed with its OpenSocial initiative.

This provides a unique DM opportunity as it allows a brand to use a standardised platform to gain word of mouth as applications are implemented and promoted by people based on their usefulness or novelty appeal. It also gives a brand insight and access to a person's wider social network."

THE CLIENT

Celia Pronto, marketing director, STA Travel

"Clients need to think about how they can use social media to continue the story they have started with direct marketing - to make their audience part of a conversation, or to reward them for interacting with their DM campaigns. If you send an email, you could include an incentive to join an online community, for example, with access to downloads and exclusive information.

Social media is a good tool for STA Travel, as our audience is the youth market - aged 18-26. We use a whole spectrum of tools, from RSS to Facebook. With an email database of almost one million people, we send communications frequently. We take feeds from our blog site with photographs and include them in emails with enhanced content. Recipients can click through to the blog site and explore where they want to go, planning their ideal trip.

We've thought about the user journey and bringing it all together, but with DM as the hook to get people into the conversation."

THE DIGITAL EXPERT

Ross Taylor, managing director, digitaltmw

"Direct marketing in social media requires a shift in mindset from telling customers about products to encouraging them to have conversations about products that are relevant to them.

For many, social media is starting to replace ways in which consumers interact with each other, such as email, talking on the phone and sending a birthday card. But just as you wouldn't expect a DM message to pop up in the middle of a dinner party, marketing in social media risks being seen as a kind of interruption. This is evident from the low click-through rates from social media advertising, but that doesn't mean that there's no space for brands to get involved.

We have done work on MySpace for T-Mobile street gigs, with videos and bloggers. Once someone has opted-in, you have a level of dialogue, but it's about getting that permission to have a dialogue, rather than just pushing your marketing message."

- Do you agree with the views of our expert panel? To add your comments go to: www.brandrepublic.com/MarketingDirect/Opinion.

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