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Social Media Experts Advise Students To Make An Impact

Mike Volpe rolled his eyes at the suggestion that social media is not an effective marketing tool because it can’t be tracked. The VP of Marketing at HubSpot, an inbound marketing software firm, said social media actually affords far more measurability than, say a radio commerical or billboard, thanks to online metrics and analytics.
Volpe came to Babson on Wednesday to take part in a panel discussion on social media, sponsored by the Babson Technology Ventures Group and the Babson Marketing Club. He was joined by Joshua Grossman, the Director of Marketing for SpringPad and Kevin Palmer, a social media consultant with Social Media Answers.
Palmer, who works with startups and PR firms to integrate marketing with social media, said he advises clients that social media is “part of your marketing arm, it’s part of your arsenal, but it’s not the end-all be-all.”
The key, Palmer said, is that customers are using Facebook, Twitter, and other applications and companies which are reluctant to embrace social media, because they fear losing control of the messaging, are missing out.
“The conversation is happening whether you are there, or not,” Palmer said.
The panelists agreed that social media is a useful tool that marketers should use in combination with other marketing methods, and as programs get more successful, they will grow to require time and money to manage.
“There’s only so much that social media can do,” Grossman said. “You have to realize that its part of a larger marketing strategy. You also have advertising. You also have public relations.”
To be an effective social media marketer, Grossman said you first need to figure out who they are trying to reach, and find where to reach them online. Next, you have to show up regularly, engage the community and be part of the conversation. If you have a point of view and something interesting to say, people will migrate to you.
Volpe believes that strategy works best if you also aren’t afraid to ruffle feathers, swing for the fences and get noticed (without damaging your brand, of course).
But in the end, your product and your messaging have to be good. Ultimately, the friends you make and the trust you earn will be your biggest assets with social media.
“Turning a customer into an advocate is one of the most powerful things you can do,” Palmer said.

– By Andrew Lightman M’11