“Analytical approaches to marketing have led to more change in the last 24 months than in the last 24 years.”
Sunil Garga, President of Analytical Insights Group.

Communication is one of the core components of any marketing program. In order to be effective for a marketer, communication needs to take place both ways. In fact, as any seasoned marketer would agree, the most effective long term approach is an asymmetrical communication model, where the listening process takes precedence. Just a few years ago companies had no other way but to spend their own money (and a lot of it) to stir a conversation with customers or potential clients and get useful feedback. There is a continuous communication process out there today, a constant flux of opinions, reviews, complaints and praises about products and services. This ongoing, information-rich conversation bears a simple name: social media.

Many companies are still struggling with grasping the concept of social media. Some still ignore it, some think it’s cool and yet there are a few out there who think of social media as a marketing tool. Kudos to those companies, though they might soon discover that adopting social media places them at the beginning of a long journey. Adding a new, powerful instrument to an orchestra provides the conductor a chance to enrich the sound and bring listeners to a new level of experience. The new instrument needs to find its place within the overall tone and rhythm and cannot play by its own agenda. When using multiple marketing tools/channels, business owners have to create a symphony and not just make noise. Orchestration requires integration. This is why marketers’ symphony is called integrated marketing where social media marketing can and should play a vital role.

Successful companies have already adopted social media marketing. They have all walked the full nine yards:

a)  Listen to the conversation taking place on the internet about your company, your products and services, your competitors and your industry in general. Only 500,000 blogs out of 200 million in existence are spam free and have more or less recent content. It's worth monitoring only 50 thousand blogs on average per industry, fewer than 500 with real thought leadership and following.

b) Engage people in meaningful (from the business standpoint) conversations on each of the social media channels with potential to generate awareness and bring more business. Once engaged, move from offers to conversions and post-sales feedback and so on. In other words, the key to unlocking the value of social media marketing is having a process for moving from social media to social commerce. There is one important thing every marketer needs to remember about social media: every interaction either creates or destroys satisfaction!

c) Continuously monitor and measure while pushing to its limit: extract the business intelligence from the entire endeavor and feed it back into the decision making process. Greater value is obtained from the analysis of data, not the collection of it!

We live tough times. Companies need to be performing at their very best with every shot as the competition is fierceful. Social media has the potential (when done right) to bring that needed marketing edge to make a company stand out from the crowd, lead the conversation, and ultimately improve the bottom line. Let me rephrase: make more money!