Social ... and sustainable

Sustainability doesn't have to be limited to your environmental efforts, a green building, community support or a long term view of business.

You can, in fact, use those elusive digital platforms we call social media as part of your broader sustainability plan.

How? By thinking out your process ahead of time, adding value, using every part of your fan base and integrating with your community, you can save time, money and effort in your marketing.

The key is to invest in systems that are self sustaining and making sure you understand the returns your marketing generates and how you can improve these numbers. 

The ultimate goal is a positive return on marketing investment. You can monitor this using online analytics or a simple spreadsheet. However you do it, don't get lazy: measure, measure and measure again. 

Advertising is a significant investment for any company, but is it actually adding value? Is it helpful, funny, educational or inspiring? If you're putting time and effort into your marketing, make it count.

Then make sure you don't let all that effort go to waste. Instead, ensure it's actively building assets like your email database, your group of Facebook fans and your Google AdWords remarketing numbers. Once you've built these lists, it's important you actually use them. Don't just let them sit there, send messages, write posts, display banners to your existing customers through remarketing and let them know about your services before anyone else. You may not even need any extra media budget to get your message out there.

Sustainability is all about community. This might mean giving your favourite Facebook page a share on your wall or writing a feature about your favourite business on your blog. Sharing the love is not only good sustainable practice, but it pays you back. 

All forms of marketing can and should be sustainable. If your advertising efforts only involve shouting at every passing person, ’buy now, it’s probably time for a rethink. 

Duncan Shand is managing director of digital agency Young and Shand. (