Yesterday, I attended the latest installment of the WBZ Business Breakfast. Billed as a way to learn how to best use social media channels to grow your business, WBZ newsman Anthony Silva and a panel of social media experts talked about social media marketing best practices, strategies and tactics.
The room (a ballroom at the Sheraton Boston) was packed. Registration had been closed for several days (and those of us who run events know that a lot of registration happens in the last few days.) In talking to one of the WBZ staffers, we heard that there were 800 registrants, and it looked like they all showed up. When Silva asked how many people heard about it on the radio, about 90 percent of the room raised their hand.
The audience was varied. There were a smattering of social media folks — a quick check on FourSquare and SCVNGR showed a hand-full of check-ins but since this was billed as an introduction to social media, that isn’t surprising. My table was comprised of potential WBZ advertisers — mid market companies with marketing dollars to spend. The table behind us seemed to be mostly small businesses and retailers. In the words of one, “You people (social media mavens) scare me.”
All too often, we forget that the latest shiny object (read marketing tactic or tool) is nothing but a tool. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LBS tools like FourSquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR, etc. are the latest examples. Something like Twitter, with its obscure symbols and seemingly random letters, can be hard to navigate at first but it speaks to a certain audience. And that audience understands the language you are speaking.
Go where your audience is. Use the communication tools that make sense for your audience. Use the words that make sense for your audience. (Would you speak French to someone from Italy?) Use the medium that reaches your target market. Use calls to action and offers that make sense for your audience. WBZ’s breakfast was not targeting the social media savvy. It was directed to the small business owner who had yet to fully embrace social media. Hence the predominance of radio listeners in the room. Some of the social media-savvy folks also heard about the event on the radio. Some of us are trapped in our cars during rush hour too. We listen to the radio and hear the promos too.
Recently we employed a radio campaign for one of our clients. While the client has embraced social media, maintains a healthy Twitter stream, YouTube Channel and Facebook page, the radio campaign, a weekly conversation between the the chef and the morning DJ has proven the big winner. It is driving a healthy increase in the restaurant’s business. This also ties in nicely with their social media channels.
It’s called a “marketing mix.” Take that word to heart and “mix” up your mediums. Don’t rely on just one. Integrate your programs. Use one medium to complement another. And don’t forget that the so-called traditional media still has an audience. In some cases, a rather large audience. And that audience may be an audience that doesn’t tweet, or blog or check-in. How are you going to reach them?
(Late addition: As I finished up this blog post and prepared to Tweet the link, I stumbled over a Tweet from @SCVNGR and @OneForty offering a workshop on social media to the small business attendees from yesterday’s breakfast. I am hoping there was another method being used to reach this audience — a flyer, an ad on WBZ, the Boston Globe or in the printed program, because if they aren’t already in social media, they aren’t going to get the message this way. Even if it scrolls past them in the Tweet-cooker on the WBZ site, they might not know to click on the link.
This audience might not know the hashtag was #WBZBreakfast or that @OneForty is the company founded by Laura Fitton, one of the panelists. Even the social media guide offered in the program via a link generated by a QR code might be nothing more than a funny little patterned square to this audience. While I always hesitate to under-estimate what people know, I’ve learned that we can’t assume our knowledge is shared by everyone.)