Seriously folks, as traditional marketing and advertising gets their hands into (my apologies for having to say it) social media, they are bringing with them their same old thinking. Like trying to shove square blocks through round holes, I see a lot of old marketing tactics with a side of Facebook being passed off as a social media solution.

The thing is, social media and all its "its about the conversation" and "its about engagement" fluff-speak is a landscape of nebulous intuitiveness that marketers (and more specifically, those hard-nose 'marketing is a science' digital marketers) just don't know how to navigate. It scares them. They don't know what to do without spreadsheets and click-through numbers to tell them their campaign is working. So what do they do? Try to fit the old into the new and it isn't working.

We're familiar with the current outcry that advertising on social nets provides disappointing "returns" and that social media marketing isn't quantifiable (yet).

Its true, but its not because social media is failing marketing, its that marketing is failing social media by failing to fully understand its value, use, and place within an ever-changing culture shift.

As of now, in a marketing context, social media is best leveraged for:

1. a mass medium of niche communities in which to build awareness (content + connectivity);

2. a platform for conducting word-of-mouth (which we know not only builds awareness but is highly influential in the decision-making process);

3. an extended CRM (networks are for relationships);

4. as a space for brands to practice open, transparency strategies for the purpose of being useful to customers.

The value of these purposes are not only in building awareness, but also influencing the decision-making process via WOM and transparency strategies (for the purpose of being useful) to consumers.

In turn, through use of social media analytics like Collective Intellect, Radian6, or Magpie's Brandwatch marketers may begin to forge more precision targeting-- the holy grail and promise of social media in the first place. We are not quite there yet with Targeting 2.0, but the trifecta of social media marketing may look something like this:

note: I work for an award-winning digital marketing agency and all comments about "hard nose digital marekters" are somewhat in jest :) ...i just think the marketing world needs to wake up a bit, I guess thats why they hired me


David Alston said...

Hi Alisa, thanks for the mention. There is no doubt that social media marketing is probably pretty close to being the complete opposite of mass marketing. Marketers have a hard time "finding big numbers" with social media. Perhaps its because they have been focused on maximizing coverage for so long that the idea of social media marketing seems to pale in comparison.

However, the beauty of social media is it's ability to connect like-minded people in a two way conversation that often leads to long term relationships. I think if we get to the core of WOM its all about that old slogan "and I told two friends" - with a big double-line under the word "friends". Social media and the web 2.0 apps that carry it probably come the closest to synthesizing that real life friendship model. I've read a number of studies lately that still point to recommendations from friends as the most influential when deciding on choosing a product or brand.
Marketers have a wonderful opportunity to become "friends" with customers and potential customers. And you are correct, by using social media monitoring solutions, like Radian6, marketers can often discover the spots where potential friends and future friends are "hanging out" and discussing things that are important to them. It's a chance to reach out and say hello and kick off what could become a wonderful relationship.

Great post. Looking forward to others.

David Alston

William said...

Excellent read. I am a SEM so, yes, CTRs are important to me. As you say, you aren't able to quantify your social media marketing effectiveness. I think of it like branding - yes it is important but it is something to be considered as a part of your mix.

I need to look into some of these analytical solutions you mentioned. At my SEM gig our team developed our own analytical engine for managing AdWords/Panama/AdCenter. I can wrap my head around SEM analytics but not so much social media marketing analytics.

Anyway, again, nice read. I am following you on Twitter now ;)

William Smith