ADMA Digital Council White Paper

The ADMA Digital Council released its first white paper in April this year. As the current Chair of the Digital Council, I wrote an article for the Direct Marketing Magazine outlining the key points of the white paper.

Entitled Social Media Marketing and the Direct Marketer Building a more meaningful relationship with the consumer, the purpose of the white paper is to identify and discuss the connection of social media marketing and direct marketing.

This paper has been developed by the Digital Council’s Social Media working group led by Mike Hickinbotham from Telstra, in conjunction with Sebastian Vasta from Optus, Sue Cash from Resonate, and independent social media consultant Ian Lyons.

Rob Edwards, CEO of ADMA, talks about one of ADMA’s (many) roles being to help marketers connect with customers. The inclusion of digital under the broader Council umbrella, as a separate Council in itself, extends that thought to “connecting marketers with customers – in real time”.

The Digital Council has three core work groups focused on Social Media led by Mike; Search led by Gary Nissim from dgm; and Email/Mobile led by MaryJane Aviles from American Express.  

Each group is working on developing white papers for ADMA around their key topic areas. As the digital channel continues to increase in importance to marketers, ADMA is focused on providing the membership with insights, case studies and thought leadership in this area.

When developing the topic for the white paper, the challenge was finding the right place to start. There are so many topics, platforms and opportunities associated with social media that the team could have come at this paper from any angle.

It was decided that the best place to start, naturally enough, was the beginning.

So the purpose of the paper is to provide the ADMA membership base with a number of key concepts relating to social media and the way this channel can be used by marketers engaging with customers.

Full explanations around these concepts can be found on the Posterous blog where the paper is posted (link provided at the end of this article), and this is intended only to be a summary of the paper.

Social Media and the Direct Marketer

  1.  Customers speak to one another. The group formerly known as the mailing list/target segment can now engage with one another.
  2.  No longer is the marketer the instigator. Traditionally engaging the customer was initiated by the marketer and the media by exception. Now anyone with access to the internet and sharing relevant content with a community of shared interest can engage.  
  3.  Content is shared in real time and is searchable. While the dynamics of social media of real-time, searchable content is a reflection of the internet’s capabilities, it is a dynamic that direct marketers need to be aware of and find opportunities to leverage.

The dynamics between Social Media and Direct Marketing

  1.  Relationship building. Direct marketing uses analysis of customer data to offer the right product, at the right time, to the right customer. Social Media is more relationship-centric and if effectively applied, could result in building greater trust with customers.
  2.  Continuous conversation. Direct marketing is a 1-to-1 communication channel with highly targeted campaigns going from the brand to the customer. As a channel, social media is continuous and multi-directional allowing the communication to be from business to customer, customer to the business and from customer to customer  
  3.  Influence the message. Messages are totally controlled by the organisation in direct marketing channels.  Organisations lack the same level of control when participating in Social Media. Influencing the online conversation by being as transparent as possible and acting with integrity will help pay dividends over the long term
  4.  Retention through recognition. The Pareto Principle of 80/20 is replaced by Power Law of 90:9:1 in social media.   In Power Law, 1% of the customers create most of the user-generated-content, 9% engage with the content and 90% simply read the content.  
  5.  Measurement. Social Media is also highly measureable with some additional metrics that require tracking such as web metrics (# of visitors, time on site, content consumption, content creation, frequency, source), social metrics (e.g. bookmarks, social “mentions” and reach of blog /microblogs like Twitter, inbound links) and sentiment tracking through text mining

How Social Media Could Support Core Business Objectives

  1.  Customer Acquisition. People talk. Social media amplifies those conversations to be received by more than the people within ear-shot of your story. And social networking gives these people the tools to easily pass on that message.  This ease in sharing content with or within shared interest communities is motivating businesses to add ‘social’ elements to their marketing efforts.
  2. Customer Retention. People talk. If the online conversation regarding your business is negative in sentiment, the online venues where the sentiment is being generated is where your business can constructively engage in the conversation
  3. Sales. Many self-styled social media gurus preach ‘social media is ‘pure and holy and cannot be poisoned by sales messages’. This is not entirely true.  
  4. Research & Development. A new source of generating revenue is developing new products.  Leverage the world’s biggest focus group to find out what the market wants? Termed ‘crowdsourcing’, social media can be used to your advantage at every step of the development cycle.

Getting started

Step 1: Listening. The best way to start is to start listening – across a variety of channels.  You’ll be tempted to engage but resisting that urge will pay dividends.

Step 2: Engaging. Now that you are equipped with insights on what your customers are interested in, you might like to engage. Your existing web site may not be flexible or dynamic enough to use for your social media initiative – this is where a blog might be perfect.

What’s next?

The white paper is located on posterous and we are actively encouraging members to contribute to the discussion.

It’s intended that each sub-group will deliver two white papers a year so topic development is important. Through the contributions relating to this paper, we are hoping to identify the next area of interest for the work group to get their teeth into.

And as a final point, the Digital Council has a great foundation of members and there is always room for more.

Additionally, there are places available for anyone to join the work group and contribute to the next paper. So if there is a social media topic you have been mulling over, debating or have seen coming across the horizon, please let us know – and join in to help deliver the next thought leadership piece.

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