It’s funny how the marketing landscape has changed over the years and even more amusing how a few local level PR companies are ‘poo pooing’ social media as a fad and something that will NEVER be used to aid businesses…  Erm, I don’t know if you got the memo, but its already happening!

I don’t know about you but I very rarely read my City’s local paper and this is only because the rich amount of media that I get sent to my computer or phone with the help of sites like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook… the list could actually go on and on.  I like the ‘news feeds’ from these sites as they are often in a first person view, brutally honest (sometimes) and unfiltered.  I like the last part the best as the press has a habit of feeding you only what they want you to hear.  I’m not in to that, I want my news gritty and most of all I WANT IT NOW and not a day later after it’s been dressed up a little.  This takes me back to a few local PR companies that have been working in my area, for years they have had great working relationships with many businesses of the surrounding area resulting in plenty of cash for them (those services don’t come cheap) and your business in a better position, you couldn’t have done it without them right?  GET REAL!!  Did you know that these companies due to the shift in the economy are actually charging more?  Their job consists of (essentially) liaising with the company they are dealing with, then liaising with the press and public to create a good image…  Press is written, pictures are taken and releases are sent to POSSIBLY (and there is the key word) I said POSSIBLY be printed in a paper that might POSSIBLY be seen.  So hold on, let me get this straight.  A company will pay great money to a local level PR company to POSSIBLY be seen?  Come on… does that sound like a good ROI?  Not from where I’m sitting.

The local level PR company then starts blasting social media because there are no guarantees with social media.  Possibly doesn’t sound much like a guarantee either though.  A smart company would integrate Marketing, PR and Social Media to create a solid platform to market from.  At the moment there is no one single platform that can guarantee results, neither do I ever think there will be, but integration and understanding all the tools that businesses have is the key to marketing and business success.  YES, social media is very labour intensive, but IMO is the ultimate ‘long game’.  The right use of social media can help you connect and understand your customers and clients in in a better and more personal way than ever before.  BUT IT TAKES TIME… NOT MONEY.  When I had a popular city centre Live music venue I did a little test. I was so fed up with being hounded by newspapers asking me to take out advertising with them that I thought I’d do an experiment…  News Paper vs. Social Media (let’s get down to ringside)

NEWS PAPER

Now I wanted to make this fair so picked the largest paper in my city ‘The Coventry Evening Telegraph’… The stats on their site read the following -

THE Coventry Evening Telegraph is:

The local daily paid for newspaper serving the Coventry and Warwickshire area.

Unrivalled in its coverage and service of the community for more than 100 years.

Daily Newspaper of the Year - BT Awards 1999

Fastest Growing Newspaper in Britain - Newspaper Society Awards 1999

Recent highly successful community-based campaigns include - Save Our Post Offices, Justice for Matrix Churchill workers and the Heartstart Campaign

184,764* adults in the area consider the Evening Telegraph best for keeping up to date with local news and sport.

Readership figures are 162,053 (Source: Jicreg May 2005).

*NOP, 2002

HI!!!… It’s me again.  So the Telegraph’s up-to-date news site cant come up with up-to-date readership figures (here is the link to the actual stat page http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/tm_headline=the-paper&method=full&objectid=7503889&siteid=50003-name_page.html ) It’s a pretty sad state of affairs but everyone reads the Telegraph, so a popular music venue should have no problem getting a good return from a well placed advert right?  Lets see.  We spent £350 on an ad and placed it in a prime location (in the Live Entertainment section) It was a voucher that would give the holder a chance to redeem it at the bar on any Friday or Saturday that month and get 2-4-1 on any bottle of beer OR any bottle of WINE… That’s right, a free bottle of wine!  The result at the end of the month?  We still had the same decent numbers through the door and only 4 vouchers were redeemed.  The ROI was terrible. So out of 162,052 people, only 4 people returned with a voucher?… So the other 600 people in the venue on that night don’t read the newspaper? Hmmm?

Social Media

We decided to run a few special promotions for our Facebook Friends (Friends is the key word here)…  I’m not the biggest Facebook fan, but for certain things, Facebook is great and for targeting certain people for certain events it’s pretty damn good.  We decided to run a few live music nights that we would ONLY be ‘advertising’ through Facebook.  The event pages were created and invites were sent to people we knew would get a kick out of the event “Print this invite for free admission”.  This offer isn’t as powerful as a free drink, but the event was about Music, and the people invited were interested in that.  They were then asked kindly to forward the invite to others that would be interested.  They did!… The return?  470 people through the doors on a midweek night where the venue would otherwise be closed.  ROI?… Well, the only investment really was the time, there were no printing costs, yes, we had a few bands on, but they were local bands that we would otherwise use anyway. 

How Did This Work?

Our keyword is FRIENDS.  We used social media to get to know the people that use our venues.  They get a message and pass it on, it’s viral and if done correctly it’ll always reach the right people and give you your ROI.  They can communicate with us and in turn we do the same.  They tell us what they want to see, they tell us what they don’t like and we react to this (this doesn’t mean bending over backwards either), the interaction that we have with our ‘Friends’ makes them feel a part of the venue, so when we give them a heads up and an offer in return for them telling a few more people, they jump at the chance.  PR and The Press can be so sterile and it can feel that there isn’t really a person behind it.  Social media in your business IS a person and it has to be a person committed to engaging for this platform to work for your business.

Social media won that battle hands down.  It really did!  But the very best way to market (as I said earlier) is to integrate all aspects of marketing and PR with social media.  Use the platform to get to know your customers.  That is a knock out combination for any business.

Thanks for stopping by

Troy