Back in business school, I was taught that the Marketing Mix is all about the famous four P’s. Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Well, it turns out there is one more P: Participation. And in the social media era, participation is increasingly important. In my search to find a catchy way to explain what is included in the Participation, I came across the Five C’s of the social media. And since for most of today’s brands, participation means engaging with the social media, I decided to make the connection. So, here it is:
Since the 4 Ps are well known, I will not talk about them. I’m just going to focus on participation. I must add, though, that participation is almost synonymous with promotion, mostly because promotion is an integral part of participation and happens naturally the more you participate. Aside from that, though, participation is much more than promotion. (Otherwise, this blog post is useless.)
Let’s see what are the 5 C’s of participation all about:
Be a part of it. There are tons of places on the web where conversations take place. It is not only twitter or Facebook. People are still talking on forums for example, and there is probably at least one forum for any topic you can come up with. Comments are also used to ignite conversations around blog posts, social bookmarking submissions or status updates. You don’t have to manually search for these conversations. Check out this list of free tools.
Can you create one? Community is the hardest element of social media to understand and deal with. It often comes after having added so much value to an existing online community that you are able to spin off and create your own. If you’re working for a compnay that has a strong brand or famous name, this process will be easier and quicker than if you are not. Current social media websites offer you many ways to create your own community and lead the conversation(s). Facebook has the fan pages and twitter offers a more abstract way through @replies. Ning is a unique tool that brings the best of both worlds.
Is worth a lot more than you think! Whenever you come across something that is of your interest, pause for a while. Look for this comment link. It takes less than 2 minutes to write a line. Even if it’s not about your brand, it’s still for your benefit. Commenting indicates that you read other people’s material and you care enough to contribute your feedback. On top of that, commenting is always a great way to start a conversation.
Groups outperform individuals. And that’s why you must make sure you collaborate with the most loyal of your network. Don’t treat them as just “friends” or “followers”. There are your partners. These are the ones who long for your blog post or the ones who enjoy retweeting you every single time. So go ahead and do the same for them. Build a relationship and sustain it.
Don’t be lazy or you’ll get kicked out (sort of). Since you have decided to join the conversation, get ready to contribute. Don’t be that guy in the corner who stalks the others. Even when you talk on behalf of a brand, people will still listen to you if you say something except “We are on twitter! We are very cool! Now, go check our latest deals!”. It is hard to contribute original content that other people want to share, but this is the key element of success when using social media in your marketing mix.
I am sure that there are still many other C’s, P’s, L’s, X’s, etc out there (and you are welcomed to share them in your comments). I believe though, that the ones I presented here cover the most essential aspects of how people and brands get to interact in the social media sphere.
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