Dennis D. McDonald (ddmcd@outlook.com) is an independent consultant located in Alexandria Virginia. His services and capabilities are described here. Application areas include project, program, and data management; market assessment, digital strategy, and program planning; change and content management; social media; and, technology adoption. Follow him on Google+. He also publishes on CTOvision.com and aNewDomain.

Social Media Engagement Tips: Do you really need a blog if you already use Facebook?

By Dennis D. McDonald

Do you really need a blog if you already use Facebook?

Listen to what Richard Musson, vice-president of marketing for Labatt Breweries of Canada, said recently when asked about using social media to support the launch of Bud Lite Lime in Canada:

Consumers don’t go on websites any more, they go Facebook-to-Facebook and consumer-to-consumer. A website is inherently a big company talking to consumers, and it seems to me anyone under the age of 30 rejects that as a form of communication. In the old days we’d put the web page on every label and every case. I think it’s a question of a few months before we replace that all with Facebook pages.

In other words, if you’re targeting  a particular demographic, you go where the market is to communicate with that market. If they’re all on Facebook, that’s all there is to it, right?

Maybe not. Keep in mind that Musson is talking about a particular brand of beer here. I can see how a traditional web site would be irrelevant, and how the interaction of a blog would be pretty well duplicated and even overshadowed by Facebook.

But before you throw all your communication eggs into the Facebook basket, be sure to assess the particular markets, products, and services you need to support. In my own case, for example, I’m currently consulting with organizations looking at social media to support communication with diverse groups such as the teachers of grade school and high school students, government contractors and procurement officials, and military veterans. In all cases, I can see a role for a “traditional” web site, an interactive blog that is controlled by the management, and distributed social networking tools such as Facebook. All three types of vehicles need to work together and with other communication channels such as advertising, customer service operations, and call centers.

By the way, this is the page I get first when I type “Bud Lite Lime” into my web browser. See how prominently Facebook is mentioned on the main page? You get the link to Facebook even before you have a chance to type in your age.

That’s one way to handle the relationship with a traditional web page — there are many others. Such an approach has an additional advantage in that analytics can be implemented to track incoming and outgoing clicks from this page which enables you to build a picture of your market’s navigation practices.

Would a Facebook page be enough in this case? Maybe for Bud Lite Lime, but how about for your project, product, or service?

Think about that and how useful it might be to track behavior across multiple communication channels when you think about your blogging and Facebook strategies. In other words, the spectrum of communication channels now available makes a simple “either/or” question relative to blogging and Facebook seem simplistic. In addition to your target demographics you also need to consider factors such as control (or lack of control) over message, privacy, the ability to deliver “official” information, and your ability to maintain consistency across multiple channels.

One question you should be asking concerns the relationship between the structure of the products and services you offer, and the structure of the markets you’re serving. If you’re happy with defining your market in a few key demographic terms, that might simplify your decision about a marketing communication mix.

But if your products and services are complex or widely differentiated, or if the decision process by which your market comes to interact with your product or service is complex or drawn out, you need to be thinking about how to manage multiple channels — not just a single blog, web site, or Facebook page — so that you don’t miss something important.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Dennis D. McDonald. For more Social Media Engagement Tips, click here. Do you need help thinking through problems like this? Give me a call.

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