Marketingsherpa Blog : » Social Media Success Means Learning to Let Go

8 01 2010

For this week’s EmailSherpa case study, I had a long conversation with Eric Erwin, EVP Marketing & Product Development, Wilton and Tim Bay, Founding Partner, Shay Digital about the ways email and social media marketing can work together.

I compiled five of their best strategies in the article, available here, but there was another big point that I think is important to remember.

Social media isn’t entirely unknown territory for email marketers. After all, they’re the experts at growing an audience, creating relevant content, experimenting with message timing and frequency, and adjusting tactics based on response rates.

But there is one big adjustment that email marketers might have to make when launching a social media strategy: You have to be comfortable with the idea that you’re no longer in control of the conversation.

“The hardest thing for marketers is to turn over the brand experience to the community and let them define it,” says Erwin.

When creating a Facebook fan page or managing a Twitter feed, you have to avoid making yourself the center of the conversation. Instead, Erwin’s team has found success by listening more than talking, and inserting themselves into discussions when appropriate.

Watching customers discuss how they use Wilton products on Facebook gives his team new ideas for future marketing campaigns. If they see a particular question or challenge continually bubbling up from the community, that becomes fodder for a how-to blog post, or even ideas for a new product.

When they do start a conversation, they make sure to take a step back and let the community dictate where it goes. Yes, there can be some criticism of the brand, but Erwin says that criticism helps them improve the customer experience.

So while it’s a big step to take, it’s one that marketers must accept for a successful push into social media. As Tim Bay of Shay Digital says:

“We recognize that there is a leap of faith, but you can reduce the distance of that leap by doing your homework and then just diving in. If things don’t go well at first, you can adjust.”

Sometimes that leap of faith is so daunting that marketers just can’t bring themselves to make it – and they’re missing an opportunity. That’s why we’re dedicating the second day of our upcoming Email Summit to the convergence of email and social media.

We’ve filled that day with new research presentations, panel discussions and case studies that show how marketers are making email and social media powerful allies. You can check out the agenda here.

If I don’t see you there, feel free to share your own advice on navigating the waters of email and social media in the comments section.

Great article from Sherpa Blog about the crux of the difficulty for so many companies in social media – letting go.

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