Turn social media risk into rewards

The promise and allure of social media marketing created a true bandwagon over the past couple of years. Too many of us went headlong into social media marketing investment without a good handle on the inherent risks involved.

The rules continue to be written and are still changing mid-game for web 2.0 marketing. In October, the FTC issued its final guidelines for online advertising and marketing with bloggers and social media, such as Twitter. While it is common sense that a blogger or Twitter user should disclose if they were paid to review a product, this latest oversight requires a new degree of diligence (and headaches) for marketers. 

How do we as marketers rise above the social media gamble, its constantly changing landscape, and notoriously difficult-to-measure ROI? It’s pretty simple. 

Back to basics: Return to planning long-term business objectives and thoughtfully select from all the marketing programs that will work best to accomplish your goal. Mix social media with e-mails and even physical mailings.

Tweetups:  One of the largest, untapped social media resources connected to direct marketing is the tweetup. The gatherings bring Twitter users together to meet live and outside the digital realm. 

Many sports teams are embracing this concept for their Twitter followers and fans. These organizations are providing great experiences to meet and greet with special events and gifts. However, tweetups are useful for any company with a core user or fan following on Twitter. It’s time to get creative and meet them in person. Whether your organization is attending or hosting a tweetup, be sure to have promotional materials, gifts and giveaways in hand and ready to distribute to your core audience. Customers still appreciate a gift, even in this digital age.

Contests: Contests are another extremely easy and effective way to bolster all of your marketing programs simultaneously. Whether it’s e-mail capture, newsletter subscription numbers, coupons redeemed for entering the contest or click-through to sales conversions, the number of ways to track success abound, even within an often hard to measure social media campaign. 

We can turn social media investment risks into rewards if we use foresight and all of our marketing tools in the right place and at the right time. Hope to hear from you on Facebook—and in my mailbox—soon.

Jerry McLaughlin is CEO of Branders.com, an online promotional items company.

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