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Multi-channel marketing, single-channel messages

Marketers, already overwhelmed by the number of electronic marketing channels they need to manage, are often tempted to treat all social media and networking services in exactly the same way.

Thanks to tools such as TweetDeck and hootsuite, it’s all too easy to simply update and track services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-In from a single screen without thinking too closely about the differences in the way the audience uses these services or the different profiles of their users.

Yet marketers that treat all these channels in exactly the same way don’t have a clear view of the differences between the channels.. Each social media channel – Linked-In, Google+, Facebook, Twitter and the rest – has a distinct purpose built on the different ways that users network with other people using the service.

For example, Twitter is best thought of as a microblogging platform that links people by their interests, both personal and professional. Relationships are loose and often asymmetrical – just because someone follows you, you don’t need to follow them back.

Facebook was originally created as a network where people who know each other in real-life connect online. Though it has since introduced a Twitter-like subscription model, it is still primarily a place where people share their lives mostly by association and not always by interest

Finding your niche

Linked-In, as a professional network, is all about connecting, networking and joining and participating in relevant “Groups”. Google+ is starting to find its niche as a big content and connections stream that allows one to curate a mass of online relationships and information in an efficient manner.

Against this backdrop it doesn’t make sense for marketers to send a single update to all of these networks or to run the same promotion across  all of their social media channels. Each channel offers different ways to
help marketers build their brands and market their offerings. A good place to start thinking about strategies for different social platforms is by thinking about the relationship  and content users share.

In social media, it’s not just who the marketer is talking to that matters, but also how that person is connected to the people in the social network. A competition that encourages sharing among real-life friends might fly on Facebook, but flop on Twitter.

Consider a recent piece of research from Harvard University, which examined how music, movies and books tastes are shared among Facebook friends. The study found that the degree to which college student shared tastes had more to do with how you became friends in the first place than the force of that allegiance later on. Just how many social marketing campaigns for social networks are built on the opposite assumption? Marketers can no longer build their campaigns around such one-dimensional views of how their audiences relate to each other and behave on social networks. We work in a multichannel world, which demands we take a multifaceted approach to all of our communications.
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