Social Media Strategies are for Losers!

by Brian VanderMaas on April 6, 2010

How many of your constituents are you currently connecting with via Social Media? Maybe 5-20%?  If you look at the total number of graduates from your institution over the last 50 years, it’s probably even less.  You’re losing out, in the sense that your institution is skipping a very cost effective and influential method of connecting with Potential Students, Current Students, Alumni, Fans and Donors.  Did you know that the fastest growing group on Facebook is females age 55-65?  Have you decided on how Alumni Relations, Development & Employment Service teams will reach out to this group and all of the rest?

When making the decision to do something really important, how do you build up the information to choose?   I know  for myself that I develop affinities to things I like and move toward them over time.  It’s what Psychologists call, “Incremental decision making and escalating commitment“.  The idea that making little decisions like joining “groups” leads to bigger decisions like donating to programs, attending events, signing on as students, or coming to the big game.  Often those affinities come from research but more often start with the people we know.  For me, that’s;  friends, family, people I speak with when I’m consulting or people I meet at social events but, as time progresses, it’s more often becoming the people I Twitter and Facebook with.  If you believe this change is true for your target audience as well then, as a brand, it’s probably smart to stop losing and engage in a Social Media Strategy; one that’s designed to engage your Social Network as a friend and influencer, creating bonds that facilitate loyalty and continuous ROI.

Here’s a personal illustration of the point.  I want more than anything to buy a 46″ LED TV, though my wife would disagree!-)  I’ve researched them all and, though I won’t be making that purchase for some time, (See the point above RE: my wife) I have already decided that I want the Samsung.  After analyzing why, I’m noticing that, yes, I like the style and features of their product better than their competitors, but it’s also because I’m influenced by their Social Media.  Or was it the Social Media that influenced my appreciation for the fit & finish?  Regardless, I found the information I need, when and where I was looking for it.  Their competition did not reach out to me in the right place or at the right time; Oooh, there’s the marketing mix coming in to play.

So, let’s touch on that as well.  Implementing a well thought out Social Media Strategy will squarely place your target audience in front of the right product, in the right place, at the right time, in the right quantity because you are willing to enter the 24-hour marketing cycle.  You are willing to make the effort to get to know your audience, remembering that they are there for social reasons.  Engaging them with relevant content and offers creates fired up brand advocates.  The $1,000,000.00 question remains though, how will I convert prospect to consumers.

As fans, group members and friends we are much more willing to share.  Through that willingness, you can begin the incremental part of the process by bringing your services to your constituents in the right place at the right time.  Once you’ve engaged them, continue the process of escalating commitment for the right product and the right quantities.  Establish a Closed Loop Marketing plan that links your Social Media Strategy to your closers.  Social Media is not something that will disappear if we bury our heads in the sand.  It is the principal cause of a deep-rooted conversion in the way we connect with each other.  Take the time to plan your Social Media Strategy and expand  it outward to reach a larger percentage of constituents.  No more being a loser.

My next Blog entry will be, 7 Steps to Create the Definitive Higher Education Social Media Strategy and I’m beginning a Post on the newest application we will be offering called Fantools for facebook.  It’s a game changer.  Check out the app on Facebook here.  Sign up for our RSS Feed, Follow me on Twitter, become a Fan on Facebook or send me a LinkedIn request to follow my higher education updates.

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