If you work in any form of brand management, brand consultancy or communications agency and have the remit to look at social media, I would recommend printing this picture and laminating it. It has many a wise word in there about developing and delivering a meaningful social media experience to users – what to consider, what the red herrings may be etc.
It also bring home many truths that are often forgotten or skimmed over by those making a decisions.
To me the 3 most salient points are:
– Social tools are a means not an end – far too many companies venture into social marketing with the key objective of simply being there. For them being there means they have done their job. The problem is having a presence is the easy part, being present is the difficult bit. Having a social presence will not (in and of itself) generate success. In order to do so, companies must ensure that social media is (a) aligned to their ultimate goals, and (b) where their prospects are. Without (a) any activity will be ineffective, and without (b) it won’t be ‘seen’. For social media to really work it needs to be seamlessly incorporated into the overall communications campaign.
– not everyone needs social media – there is so much guff and gushing over social media that you would think it is the panacea for ineffective marketing spend. The fact is that it is not. Some brands are suited to social media and some are not, just as some brands are suited to radio and TV and others are not. What marketers need to understand is if their customers or prospects are engaging in social media, what channels they are engaging with and how. Only once they know that should they think about engaging in ‘being social’.
– context matters – I’ve written about this in the past. Context is what determines why people should listen to you right here, right now. It provides you with the purpose for talking to them, and therefore the purpose for them to pay attention. In the realm of social media this means understanding the conversations that are taking place and where you (as a brand) sit within that – as a reference, as an enabler or as a leader.
The understanding of the power and influence of social media for brands is still growing but it is not, nor will it ever be, the salvation of your marketing budget. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look into it, because you should; you just need to carefully consider its role in the marketing mix for your brand.
‘Becoming social’ is a good thing, but you need to take those individual words seriously – ‘becoming’ not ‘pretending’ (embracing the experience and interaction it provides); ‘social’ not ‘one way’ (about listening and responding more than just sending information out).