Why Does Social Media Stink?

Originally uploaded by Mandy Sue.

Yesterday I was thinking about Katie’s upcoming presentation on digital planning, and in a fit of BSP, Mack Collier comes to the rescue with a thought provoking post over at MarketingProfs. Mack rightly identifies one of the largest failures of marketers to respond to the social media opportunity — treating it like a channel. This is a fundamental error.

You see, what we have happening is some isolated tactical executions designed to activate a campaign. The Nikon D80 social media outreach program is a great example — hand select bloggers of influence, put a camera in their hands, encourage them to use it and post about their experience, and then, at the end, donate the camera or the proceeds of sale to charity. Sounds nice. Sounds clever. But it misses out on one of the key items of a communications initiative — feedback. As CK says, "listening is key".

Of course, once you have feedback, you need to do something with it … but that is a WHOLE other post. But in terms of integrated digital strategy, it seems to me that there are some things that should be considered:

  • Not all traditional marketing methods or channels work for digital. In many ways, digital messaging is more akin to direct mail. This is especially true for mobile activations where you are limited to a number of characters rather than a number of pages. Think SMS. Go experimental and choose TWITTER.
  • Some of the traditional approaches DO work. The old adage that you need to deliver your message THREE times for it to sink in is true — tell them, tell them and tell them again. Only it seems to work better when you work across channels. Think BLOGS, EMAIL, MICROSITE. Get funkier, choose YOUTUBE, PODCAST and RINGTONE.
  • With the explosion of social media forms, the challenge is depth of experience with the tools. Remember, we are all constantly learning how to use social media … so there is an argument for digital planning requiring its own process and discipline. However, the returns may not (as yet) warrant it. The challenge is to open the dialogue in the spaces where your consumers "hang out". Think EXPERIMENTATION and SMALL BUDGET. Be daring and COMMIT 5% of your MEDIA SPEND.
  • Support your digital work with a mainstream media buy. Remember, you want to drive traffic and awareness online — while also activating any social media PULL. Even the most technical of us don’t live 100% of our lives online. Think BALANCE and INTERLOCK. Remember the meaning of INTEGRATED.
  • Finally, and I think this could be a post on its own, remember this is an Age of Conversation. What is the point of a campaign if you let all your efforts fade into nothing? If you are capturing attention, CONVERT it to conversation. If you are collecting email addresses, USE them to CORRESPOND. If you are INVITING your consumers into your brand, make them WELCOME.

So, after all that, what makes great digital integrated planning? Really it is the desire to NOT STINK. They say that smell is the strongest determinant of memory — so if your social media or integrated campaign is on the nose, we will all remember it for some time.

4 thoughts on “Why Does Social Media Stink?

  1. Great post Gavin. I think many marketers aren’t sure what to make of social media. They know it’s hot, but don’t know how to utilize it properly. So they slip into the old familiar standby, and look for ways to turn the medium into another sales channel.
    We mention that social media is about communication and having a conversation, and marketers reply with ‘Yes but how do you MONETIZE that conversation?’.
    What they don’t realize is that the conversation monetizes itself. Communication=understand=more effective/efficient marketing=lower marketing costs.
    The conversation monetizes itself.

  2. Good post Gavin. It gives each one of us something to think about. I know this will drive some among us crazy, but one of the toughest issues that has to be addressed is ROI, and to Mack’s chagrin that includes the time and money we expend vs. the revenues that are returned. I can’t recommend something to a business that my only explanation for doing it is to start a conversation. (You, Mack, CK and I may have far more solid explanations for recommending social media but I’m not sure those reasons are clear in the business world.)

  3. “The conversation monetize itselfs”
    Great quote for a great post.
    Unfortunatly, we’re in a KPI-driven corporate world. In most companies, it’s hard to take an action without proposing a performance indicator… and I still didn’t figured out what a KPI could be for conversational marketing. I’m even not sure it’s necessary in that particular case.

Comments are closed.