It seems everyone you talk to has a different perspective or view of social media. They may love or hate it, consider it a waste of time, or maybe even think it’s the only part of the marketing strategy that matters. Regardless, I’m a believer in social media. The more I engage in the different mediums, the more I find that a high majority of interaction comes from a very specific approach or strategy. There are two different ways you can communicate: a push strategy or a pull strategy. Push and pull strategies are not new to the world of marketing, but the introduction of social media at such a high level has definitely added a new dimension to the ways we go about our advertising.
Some marketing is right there in your face. You may get direct mail postcards, email blasts, phone calls, etc. for information you never signed up for in the first place. It is not uncommon for companies to buy lists of names that fit a specific audience they think will want their product in an effort to gain more market share. That is more of a push strategy in that they push the information to you, whether you are looking for it or not. These strategies are typically used for quick sales and awareness, or to promote a new product or service the consumer may never hear about otherwise. A good example of this would be a direct mail postcard advertising a special interest rate for a Labor day weekend sale, or a new perfume that has yet to hit the market.
Some marketing relies exclusively on valuable content, promotions, and convenience. Often you find this type of marketing on social sites where people monitor their own content feeds. In social media, you typically have the ability to choose who you want (and don’t want) to receive content from. You choose to follow someone on Twitter, or maybe become a fan of a company, organization, or educational institution on Facebook. You might see a status update, tweet, or something similar saying, “Sign up for our newsletter and get a free shirt” or, “5 sideline passes for tonight’s game to the first 5 people who show up to the athletics office.” Many of the big corporations you receive push marketing from often have a presence on these sites as well, offering a completely different type information as these consumers (and rightly so) tend to be more fickle.
If the consumer has decided to receive your content, they have already decided two things: First, you offer something valuable, and second that you’re trustworthy. So long as you continue to do these two things, they’ll be loyal. This can best be described as a pull strategy, where you pull people to you through reliable content distribution.
The Balancing Act
The challenge continues to be finding the balance between push and pull strategies. Because of the privacy/invasion of space issues, I believe it’s important to work the pull angle in social media. If they choose to follow you on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, or reply to your blog, they’re essentially giving you permission to keep providing them with valuable information. It will always be about having the right content in the right places, where people can find you and get the answers they need.