A “Push or Pull” Perspective on Social Marketing

Not long ago, I wrote about the marketing limitations of Social Media. Today I want to note certain advantages of Social Media.

But first, let me tell you what inspired this post.

A fellow technology professional that I’ve known for years (and partnered with on occasion) has developed certain niche applications for very specific vertical markets. These niche applications are quite useful when understood and applied. But they are so innovative and unique that few if any prospects would ever search for them on the web.

I’ve written about this phenomenon in the past, citing Daniel Burris’ “New Golden Rule”.

Give your customers (and prospects) the ability to do what they can’t currently do, but would want to… if they knew it was possible”.

The above referenced applications do exactly that. The problem is – prospects don’t search for what they don’t know is possible – so search engine marketing can present some real challenges here.

But targeted B2B marketing, to the degree that LinkedIn provides, at least gets our message out to that niche market, right down to the niche persona. So LinkedIn may offer an advantage over search marketing in this regard (as well as in filtering out undesired prospect types).

Then we have Facebook. While it will never have the reach of the wider worldwide web, it does an incredible job of local marketing for the business owner who is actively social by nature,  but doesn’t have the logistical means to talk his or her venture up to 10,000 locals in a week. Facebook marketing can do that.

Push or Pull Marketing
Push out a targeted message when you cannot “pull in” an existing intention.

To recap from my earlier post, Social Media is still a “push” vs. “pull” medium. By this, I mean that you are pushing your message out to an audience vs. the audience searching for your product or service.

While you can limit search marketing geographically, you cannot target your message to a specific social network or business niche persona with the effectiveness of Facebook or LinkedIn. So … credit given where due … social marketing strategies have certain advantages over search marketing, despite the incredible reach, popularity and success of “inbound”  marketing.

We hear a lot about “inbound vs outbound” marketing in the digital space, but “push or pull” predates “online” by centuries. For example, when a consumer visits a mall intending to buy a sweater, he may enter a clothing store with no direct marketing enticement at all. You could try to “push” a pair of pants on him, but you’re more likely to ring up a sweater, since that is what he was intending to buy. His intention “pulled” him in of his own accord.

Search engine marketing is so successful because it replicates this long standing “fulfillment of intensions” online.

But it cannot fulfill a “really useful unknown”, and it cannot raise awareness of a business “you’d choose to buy from because of the owner’s good standing in your community”  – not like social media can.

Digital marketing offers a platform for every situation. Good strategy is the deployment of the right platform for the situation that fits it best.