Article by Austin Social Marketing Company Semantic Advantage, Inc. -- April 2012
The Social Media Marketing Challenge: The expanding universe of social marketing sites and technologies can be challenging and time consuming; and not every business has the expertise and resources to be successful with Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, Google+ and Twitter. Not to mention Pinterest and Foursquare postings, YouTube video production, HTML5 programming or iPhone app development. That's why many companies in Central Texas outsource their social media campaigns to an Austin social marketing agency with expertise in Reputation Management, Web 2.0 technology and advanced social media automation tools.
However, it's entirely possible for a business to implement a social marketing program via traditional media -- without using computers, mobile devices, social media sites, digital images or the Internet! Surprisingly, one can utilize proven 19th century technology while still employing the same marketing concepts and nomenclature used by today's expert social media practitioners:
Content Marketing: As Johannes Gutenberg said in his 1445 blog post, "Content is King". An offline social marketing strategy needs a huge quantity of printed text, graphics, photographs and hand-scrawled notes to attract an audience. So start writing, plagiarizing and photocopying!
Expand your Social Graph: Get a book of quotations (or cliches) and send one of these via postcard to everyone you know. Add a note asking recipients to send copies to all their Friends, offering to Like them if they Like you. This tactic alone can garner an audience of 100,000+ Followers -- especially if the card includes an attractive photo or company name similar to that of a celebrity or major brand.
Content Acquisition: Consult the publishing industry directory in the local library to see which magazines, newspapers, trade journals and other printed media have the highest circulations. Subscribe to all of these and send a terse photocopied form letter to each publisher telling them your company Likes them. As the periodicals arrive in your postbox, file and categorize the contents for future re-distribution -- but it's not necessary to read them.
Audience Engagement: Whenever you get a phone call, telegram, letter or post card -- reply promptly to compliment and thank the sender for their insightful message. Tell them you're Following them and be sure to provide the page number of your business listing in the phone book. For outbound phone responses, tape a brief prerecorded generic audio message; for mailing and faxing, use a mimeographed note with cryptic abbreviations and typos.
Content Re-distribution: Make photocopies of everything you receive in the mail and promptly re-mail this material to your entire Social Graph, attaching a profound commentary like 'Excellent letter', 'Interesting photo' or 'Thought you'd like this'. Wait a day; then call each contact and read the material to them over the phone (or leave a voice message).
User-Generated Content and Crowdsourcing: Why spend hours at the typewriter when there are plenty of people out there willing to write for you! Hold a writing contest, advertise a job opening -- or post blank sheets of paper on public bulletin boards or telephone poles in high traffic areas with provocative headings like "I believe social media marketing is a passing fad. What do you think?"
Image Marketing: Take random photos of things you encounter in business or daily life. Have the film developed at the drugstore and make several thousand prints. Mail or fax the prints to everyone you know -- and people you don't know (just look 'em up in the phone book). Include a business card and a request to be your Friend. Whenever the opportunity arises, Pin these (actually staples work better) on bulletin boards or Wall in a public place, along with a request to Share these with Friends.
Video Marketing: Make a dozen short 16mm home movies (10 min. max) about any dopey subject that comes to mind. Have the film processed and copied, and leave several reels at every movie theater in the community -- along with a business card (with request to Like your business) taped to each one.
Mash-ups: Using conventional cut-and-paste technology, one can combine text and graphic elements in a document to maximize the social marketing impact and 'personalize' the content for the target audience. The epitome of this is an Infographic -- a confusing montage that can be created with construction paper, scissors and glue. Photocopy and mail these repeatedly to all Friends and Followers, making sure to print 'Infographic' on the outside of the envelope to maximize the open rate.
Search Optimization and the Semantic Web: Go back to the library and look in the Subject card catalog to see which index cards are the most worn and dog eared. These will be the major 'keywords' for your offline search optimization program. Get a few thousand blank index cards and write information about your products, services and keywords on these -- especially references to company photos and video media. Then stuff the cards back into the most popular sections of the card catalog.
Monitor Trending Topics: List the major topics discussed in letters, phone calls, newspapers, magazines and trade journals you receive, and tally the number of times each topic is mentioned. Use these high-volume topics (along with buzzwords specific to your business) to augment the list of keywords used for Search Optimization and Search Marketing.
Location-based Marketing: Every week, mail out postcards to all contacts (Friends and strangers), telling them where you are and asking recipients to Share this with Friends, Friends-of-Friends and Acquaintances. The locations should also be added to the keywords list for future postings, mailings, phone calls and voice messages. Give the library, Post Office, phone company and content publishers permission to tell everyone where you are at any given moment, especially in Austin
Social Marketing Automation: All this printing, faxing, phoning and photocopying can be tedious and expensive; so these processes should be automated as much as possible. Have large quantities of index cards, letters and notes printed at Kinkos; contract with a Robo-Call service to deliver phone messages and faxes; and rent a Pitney Bowes machine to do mass mailings.
Refining the Social Graph: Maintain a list of people who sent letters, cards, photographs, movies or telegrams. Enhance your social marketing reach by updating your contact list: Add the new ones and cross off the ones who didn't get back to you (forwarding their contact info to telemarketers, media outlets, mass mailing houses and door-to-door salesmen).
Conclusion: Web 2.0 technologies and the bewildering array of social media sites can be daunting; but there's no reason to forego a social marketing program just because your company is not at the cutting edge of online technology. Businesses have been thriving for thousands of years without these nuisances. Just follow the above recommendations and your company can have an absonant and highly fatuous social marketing strategy.