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How Direct is Social Media Marketing?

Posted on Jun 23rd, 2009
Written by Lee Odden
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    direct marketing social media I had nice back and forth with Brian Clark of copyblogger on Twitter last week about direct marketing and social media.  Ultimately it was more an issue of perspective and semantics but there were some great points about the intersection of direct marketing on the social web. I’ve been an advocate for several years as have others in the social media consulting space, that the social web is not a place for direct marketing. In the past I’ve even posted a fairly good comparison of the difference between direct marketing and social media marketing.

    Brian’s position via our Twitter discussion was that social media is exactly that, marketing directly to consumers – a great point. My perspective is that social media is no place for direct marketing messages.

    Companies that rush into a social network with sales offers is a classic example of an inappropriate use of direct marketing tactics on the social web. People don’t join social networks to be confronted with marketing messages, they join to be social with a likeminded community.

    One successful method for brands to engage social communities from a marketing perspective is to make an effort to listen, participate and leverage email as a transition opportunity.  Email works very well in conjunction with social media for direct marketing purposes.

    The marriage of social media relationship building and building up an email list is more congruent to direct marketing than most people think. I think what can make direct marketing work best on the social web is to exercise “give to get” in terms of providing value first. Generate attention and interest through interaction, participation and education. Blogs, social networks and other social apps that allow a community to interact with the brand are good examples.  As the brand provides value and trust, interested community members can move from casual social connections to joining an email list with added benefits. The key is transparency about what providing an email address means, in terms of receiving commercial messages and offers.

    What do you think?

    • Can direct marketing be social?
    • Can direct marketing messages succeed on the social web?
    • What’s the difference between marketing directly and direct marketing?

    John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing may be doing a podcast of Brian and I next week on this topic and I’ll be sure to Tweet a link to it if he does.

    For those direct marketers reading this post, you might be interested in the DMA’s new Social Media Council – special interest group on LinkedIn to help educate direct marketers on social media best practices, share insights with others in the community.