New Media Communications Consulting: for the beginner–how to avoid scams and paying for ineffective strategies
So, you want to hire a communications consultant to help boost your on-line marketing effectiveness? That’s a great idea. But they keep talking in acronyms you barely understand such as SMO and SEO without really telling you want it all means–why it’s valuable to you.
SMO and SEO are acronyms of great meaning in the world of communications consulting and new media marketers. If your idea of social media optimization (SMO) is posting all your family vacation photos AND videos for your “friends” to see in a couple clicks from your mobile device, you’re not alone. However, this leaves you in a difficult position when you go to hire a communications/marketing consultant to manage your business’s social media campaign.
Social Media Optimization is all about driving unique visitors to your website and business and ultimately creating customers and supporters of you brand/products/services/cause. At its best, SMO will identify and attract unique visitors of a certain profile who are most likely to be current customers, potential customers and/or supporters who will help spread the word about your brand/products/services/cause. Clearly, this could make a huge positive impact on your business’s success.
This is similar to another buzzword, search engine optimization (SEO), where a set of strategies, used properly, will help drive unique visitors to your website and business. Again, at best, the strategies employed will target a particular type of visitor who has already demonstrated some interest in a topic addessed by your business as evidenced by their web search interests, etc.
So, what we are focusing on here is not just SMO or SEO but target marketing. Marketing that targets a group of customers whom businesses have decided to aim their marketing strategies/messages and likewise their products and services.
Why does this matter? You will have far better success in turning 1,000 unique visitors to your website into customers/supporters if they are already interested in your products/services or at least show signs of fitting your target market’s demographics. For instance, it isn’t very helpful marketing a new micro-brewed beer to a group of individuals who are responding to blog posts on how to survive unemployment.
While this may sound obvious, I’ve said all of this to say this: beware of communications consultants/ marketers who try to feed you an SMO (or SEO) plan, which doesn’t strategize for target marketing. I’ve seen far too many consultants pad up clients Facebook “friends/likes” and Twitter “followers” with thousands of fellow marketing professionals whose personal profiles contain thousands of “friends/likes/followers” whom they follow and whom follow them.
For the most part, this is a worthless strategy, attracting nothing but marketers looking to pad their followers numbers and who have no interest in your business, products or services at all. They will not interact with you and help you build meaningful collaborative relationships, and they will not help you gain more customers or supporters. What they will do is often fill your view of messages from followers with endless chatter and make it difficult for you to decipher a true supporter from one who is just padding your numbers.
I say for the most part, because there are exceptions where this is useful. These exceptions exist when you are referring to income generated from ads and click-throughs etc. In some of these cases, large numbers of followers can help generate revenue for you, but certainly not the loyal supporters of your brand/products and services you need for true business sustainability. Plus, it doesn’t represent the best that social networking has to offer in terms of augmenting relationship-building, two-way communication and loyalty among customers and potential customers.
Beware of consultants who can’t or don’t map out a SMO plan for you that includes target marketing. There are far too many in this field who are looking to pad their own pockets with your money for merely padding your numbers of social media followers, conning you into thinking they’ve done a great job. What value was brought to the table for each strategy implemented? That’s the question you need answered. This will determine the value of your consultant.