If you are active in social media, you probably recognize that we have advanced beyond 'web 2.0' to some other version entirely as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites have gained critical mass. You have also probably noticed that 'Mobile Marketing' is mentioned as a trending topic.
Social Media has begun to mature as its users figure out how to best use it. In fact, social media has completely changed the way we use the web and our devices to interact. It used to be that software and device developers had their own visions for how their product should be used and then informed users how to use them.
But with social media that has changed. In spite of the developer's best intentions, users find ways to use their software in ways that weren't necessarily intended. Consider Twitter. I am convinced that Twitter's core group had no idea how their product would be used over the long term. Truly great products are like that. Because they capture the imaginations of the early adopters and evangelists, they grow a life of their own.
Boiled down to the most basic, social media is merely a way to connect with people of similar interests and interact with them. Most social media apps provide the means of opening a dialogue and provide other tools to continue that conversation using text, video, weblinks and email.
That's essentially the definition of any successful marketing campaign - to begin a dialogue and pursue an ongoing conversation. Social media has revolutionized marketing because for decades, the conversation was totally one-sided. Marketers tried to guess, by way of demographic information, what groups of people might be interested in their side of the conversation.
With social media, we begin the effort immediately as a two-way communication by offering something of value.
SMS/text message marketing is the ultimate social media platform.
The consumer already has the device in his hand to open a dialogue with you. The main difference between the social media apps discussed here and the hand-held device is that the invitation to connect is not limited to the on-line world. The invitation is time/place relevant, or should be for a campaign to be successful.
Prior to SMS/text interaction, the way to interact with a customer or prospect, apart from face-to-face, was to publish a phone number and staff yourself with inside sales and customer support personnel. Some companies even made it pretty hard (and still do) to talk to a representative. SMS and the applications which support SMS marketing provide you some automation around the initial contact - allowing you to respond immediately without inundating what support staff you employ - or yourself - with easily answered questions or requests. It also can, in the case of a well-designed platform, automate the capture of contact information so you can continue a dialogue. And it can do this while you sleep.
A segment of the mobile marketing crowd is still stuck in the old one-way paradigm. Rather than invite the consumer to opt-in by offering something of value and interest, they are employing old methods which attempt to start a dialogue by shouting at the consumer and invading his mobile device without consent. For instance, you are walking past a store and technology installed near the door detects that your Bluetooth™ enabled phone is within distance, and sends an MMS or SMS message about the product offered inside the store.
Perhaps, if they can reach enough devices, they will gain a customer. But in the process, they are undermining their own brand, the Bluetooth&trade brand - once touted to be the most secure wireless network ever produced - and the prospect's confidence. (How secure is it if any yay-hoo can use it to send an un-solicited marketing message?)
Time/place relevance is the key to a successful social media marketing effort. This does not have to be off-line. Many successful SMS campaigns present their invitation to connect on-line as well as off. The key is to have an invite that promises a passer-by something of value to them, whether that be a piece of relevant information, a discount on a product you offer, entry to an event or repeating updates about the services you offer. Whatever offered, it has to be something of value. This is exactly the advice you are given by social media experts to build your social networks through Twitter, Facebook and other sites.
Beyond this initial contact, it behooves the marketer to also offer other avenues of communication. This is where you offer your social media site contacts, email and phone number(s) so that the user can interact further using whatever means they are most comfortable using. But do follow up and do so with timely relevance escalating only when it makes sense to do so. Do not seek immediate conversions. You are building a relationship which may or may not lead to a sale. You are gaining a person's trust, a thing which should be respected and treated with all due seriousness.
The point being made here is that mobile/SMS/text marketing is in fact social media marketing. It provides a way to initiate a conversation and find like-interested people as do social media applications. However SMS/text includes the added benefit of time/place relevance. SMS/text marketing reaches far beyond the on-line world while retaining all of the other important features of social media.
SMS/text marketing is social media marketing.