Inline Segmentation is the answer to fixing social marketing
Inline Segmentation is the answer to fixing social marketing

In yesterday’s post I talked about the future of permission marketing and ended with how social media is broken in its current state.

Now I’d go a step further and say not only is social media  a lack luster communication medium it also sucks for a marketer.

Inline segmenting or Inline Segmentation (my terms) is what I see as the answer to fixing this social marketing challenge. Explained a little further– giving the ability of someone following a person, a company or brand an option of defining that relationship (see below for a illustration).

So social marketing is broken? Why would I say such a thing… especially since the majority of what I do is focused on new media marketing? First, I do like to live in reality and I like results, I like what works, and well it is kind of what I think. I also bring it up so we are aware of it and we can plan and adapt for it.

A good reminder of this came from Emarkter and a short post about how it’s a thin line between liking a brand and liking its social marketing. They mention a study from ExactTarget titled “Subscribers, Fans, and Followers” (a great report by the way).

When asked what motivates someone likes a brand or company in the social space virtually tied in first place for a motivation in liking a brand are “to receive discounts and promotions” and “to show my support for the company to others”.

Here is Our First Challenge.

Two opposing motivations for someone giving permission for a company to interact with them.

Let’s say it’s your company. On one side they want deals–that’s pretty cut and dry. On the other side is a show of support. This support at that time, at that moment, they felt they wanted to support your company. Here once again we have a segmenting problem. No matter which way you go as a company your future interactions will alienate some of  your audience.

Even if you mix up your messaging your still not serving your audience.

While in I’d argue generally in marketing that is a good thing (niche focusing) in this instance I believe it’s not.  These are people that want to support or hear your message at some given time. As you continue to miss their expectations their support for you continues to fall. Eventually it moves to unliking or complete tune out of your message.

The Solution That Doesn’t Exist

Segmenting is the solution. What if when someone liked your page or followed you they got this…

Creating new follow rules for social media
Creating new follow rules for social media

They can segment themselves. How much easier would it be for you then? When you push out updates you know what list and what message to release. You also start the relationship with a form of respect and give your audience what they really want. Back to reality…

The Solution Right Now

The solution for now is for you to intelligently segment your audience. Take a clothing maker that makes sports clothing for women and men. They could segment their pages, accounts, and messaging on these two verticals. They would have a women focused Facebook page and a men focused Facebook page.

Now they would still have the problem of expectations of the Liker (what a lame term) but you are at least getting closer. I wouldn’t suggest you segment out for deals, news, or support. That simply isn’t feasible and makes little sense.

I should also mention the expert email marketers out there have been segmenting for years. This is old hat to them. The tools in this space are getting better and better as each year goes by. I expect that social will catch up–or I would argue that it will have to catch up. If it doesn’t your brand, your mentions, your messages just become part of the noise.

What are your thoughts on this type of segmenting and if this could be adopted in the social space?