This is a guest post by Barry Magennis who blogs onjobs in media, charity work and marketing careers.

The rise and rise of social media is well documented, in fact over the last 3 years it has run rampant through both personal and professional sectors. So much so that you would be hard pressed not find anyone with an online interest not mentioned somewhere ?socially?. For marketing professionals, social media opens up a wealth of possible connections and a powerful tool for implementing new and existing strategies.

A lot of marketing executives take an unyielding approach to just one aspect of social relations: the brand-consumer association. Many assume that the ?social? in social media marketing is only about the association with consumers but such a viewpoint will only serve to constrain marketing efforts. Reconsidering the role of other associations can significantly boost the success of marketing efforts intended to attract consumers.

Partnership Marketing and Social Capital:

Building relationships in any form and being able to leverage them is fundamental when it comes to social media marketing. Building so called ?social capital? is easy through the likes of Twitter followers or LinkedIn connections but marketing executives need to realise the importance of using that capital to create partnerships.

Although social media aids in exploiting new partnerships, the distinction between professional and personal has become hazy, so much so that now the key to leveraging all social media has to offer is to approach it in a more social manner.

The notion of partner marketing? is nothing new. A classic illustration of this would be a business owner being paid to display advertising materials from a company they are associated with or add logos to their own advertising materials of companies they are authorised to distribute for. Once marketing moved online, partner marketing became the publishing of links on websites. Now social media provides a whole new approach to partner marketing and has made it so much easier to form connections with others of all sizes and footings.

Facilitating Engagement:

Big or small, any business can form partnerships to augment the ROI of social media marketing. The approaches below offer ways in which marketers can engage with new connections in social media campaigns:

  • Join forces with a connection to increase your campaign profile. Offer them additional publicity for their brand whilst they do the same for you. For example, adding promotional posts to Facebook is simple and a partner?s branding can easily be incorporated into the design.
  • Contests, sweepstakes and giveaways are a great way to engage consumers and a tie-up with a partner brand who can donate prizes is a good way of being able to offer something which may otherwise be beyond your budget. In return you offer a form of ?sponsorship? whilst the promotion is running giving them more exposure.

Although this is two good ways in which you can bring new connections into your campaigns, it is important not to stop there?.

  • Utilize your connections? social channels to strengthen your own efforts. You may not have an inclusive plan in place for partner marketing, but it is always worth asking them to retweet, mention or share your communications to help improve performance.
  • Don’t forget other forms of social interaction either blog mentions and newsletters are all great ways of spreading the word; but you may need to spend time developing relationships before partners with these means will help spread the word. And if you do get a mention or share be sure to return the favor.

 

Another advantage for businesses of all sizes and budgets is that achieving a mention through a tweet or a Facebook share is much easier than coordinating an advertising campaign with different partners.

One thing that should be remembered is that when talking about partners? or connections? either can mean anyone from those with whom you have had a long term marketing relationship to those with whom you make casual requests for mentions or shares. If budget is a concern then adoption of social media marketing is a good low budget option with a high ROI if done properly.

Marketers and those in marketing executive jobs need to add social media to their partner marketing campaigns. What social media channels do is enable connections with people across the world in a way that traditional offline marketing either made difficult or impossible. But don’t be fooled building partnerships still takes time and hard work no matter what the choice of medium.