I've noticed business owners often seen confused when it comes to using social media to attract new customers.
I thought I would shed some light on an important distinction between tools vs. campaigns in helping you equip yourself with new avenues to brain storm how to use social media to the fullest.
Generally speaking, social media tools are the mechanisms a website can use to trigger their viewer to share content that they like through their associated social networks (ie Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). A London, Ontario based company using tools in their digital marketing strategy fairly well is Cello Supper Club. When you go to their website you'll notice in the bottom right hand corner they have the Facebook, twitter, and blog icons. It's basic but at least they're using it and they're doing so consistently. They're also taking advantage of other Google marketing and search engine tricks (I'll talk about this in a later post).
The result? With dozens of worthy competitors in the fine dining industry and being opened less than two years, they are the # 1 restaurant that appears when you Google "fine dining in London Ontario". Are they making a killer ROI because of it? You bet they are.
A campaign on the other hand is a marketing initiative a company launches that contains social media tools within it. A good way to look at it is campaigns are the context while social media tools are the content (the highway in which it can virally spread). A great example of a recent social media campaign is Aviva Canada's launch of the Aviva Community Fund. Aviva Canada challenged Canadians to submit their idea to make Canada a better place. People could then vote for their favorite idea. How did it spread? People sharing the ideas through email, twitter, Facebook, etc.
What I think
An observation I've made is 99% of small businesses that use social media are focusing on the tools and ignoring the campaigns. Most businesses ignore both. Even some Fortune 100 companies have not launched their own authentic campaigns yet. That's how new this stuff is. When you're using both in your marketing & communications arsenal, you have a combination that is cost effective, results oriented, and different than your competitors.