Here are several examples that I think tend to get overlooked.
Facebook/ Google+ and being "liked" - Pretty pedestrian if all you do is stick up a page and ask people to like you. Doesn't do much for them and does really nothing for you. But is you can create content that is targeted and appears in their stream that they can click back to you... then you can measure efficacy. If the content is a special offer or some other enticement and that generates business then great. This is one venue that can work if thats all you want. Its still a one to many marketing and you still need additioanal social media strategies to build habits and loyalty.
If you are a business and you are trying to build loyalty vs sell a product, I think your approach needs to be different. You may have a section of your main site for that purpose but you, in fact, lose that audience if the first thing they see is the site aimed at marketing products.
Building loyalty is about listening and asking people to come in and help you serve them better. It can start with a blog posting that people react to or asking them to tell stories about how they have used your product or service. It can be your blog post on a site that is exclusively yours, or something on someone elses.
For example; Trip Advisor lets people talk about the places they have visited, hotels and venues, acitivities, etc. A lot of people talk about their experience and smart business peopleare monitoring that site to respond to both positive and negative reviews. When someone sees a negative review followed by an apology and an offer to make things right, the audience can see that this is a business who genuinely cares for feedback and does not get frightened off of the product or service. There are sites for consumer reviews about almost everything so if your social media strategy does not include reviewing those sites then its a big gap in your strategy.
To me, social media that is effective is consumer/audience centric and gives them a voice that they otherwise would not have. For example, if you are a retailer, social media capabilities may allow you to have customers tell you what kinds of products they like and would really buy. It may include ways to use products better or provide additional uses.
You are clearly a very bright lady. I enjoyed reading your response. I do have a question. Remember the American Airline commercial a few years back where the company President was sending is staff out to do face to face visits with their clients who were lost to competitors? That commercial intimated that face to face was better than email, faz and other forms of mass media available at that time. So, where does Social Media and face to face collide in the most positive way. I continue to believe that it is the development of relationships that matter the most, and I concur that those relationships can be with the masses, but there remains I believe that need for the individual or the mass to know you up close and personal as well.
Thanks for the opportunity to respond,
Thank you for the compliment. It brightened my day!
Social media today can include face to face. It should not be your exclusive strategy for face to face but it can help ou overcome time and distance. Webex, Skype, Apple Facetime and Google all provide tools to allow you to interact one to one or one to many. And like those people you bring in for focus groups, you can record their feedback and see each individuals facial expression!
For example, if you have a number of customers that you are getting feedback from, why not invite them to a meeting. Bring them into your process for problem solving and product creation, to view messaging and the like. Create champions out of your customers and they will become vested in your success by offering you their feedback and opinions.
Imagine if Richard Branson (Virgin CEO) invited you to a small meeting to understand more about your feelings about travel and destinations you've visited and why?
Or if the President of your bank reached out and wanted to hear about the best thing the bank has done and the thing thats pissed you off the most. Now obviously these people have to be trained to be listeners, empathetic and to not be defensive. They have to follow up on the "I'll get back to you's"....
Obviously you can't possibly do it with all your customers but finding those who are opinion leaders in the social networks is getting pretty easy. You may also uncover new markets and ways to brand your products that you never considered.
TAke care and good luck
Thank you! I admit to being an old dog, in a relatively new arena, consulting. I do what I do because I have a passion for the healthcare outcomes for the frail and elderly. I am an outside the box thinker even though I am an old coot, but that in and of itself is inadequate in today's competitive market. Your points are well made and clearly I need to take full advantage of all on line assets if I am to succeed.
I too am in consulting and have developed a social media strategy to attract more people to participate in health and disease research. These are exciting times and the technology is enabling and making thing far more affordable. A friend of mine Laurie Orlov writes a blog that may be useful called "Age in Place" http://www.ageinplacetech.com/blog/12-most-popular-posts-2011
Having trained hundreds of marketing and PR professionals on social media, there is a huge miscommunication in the value adds aroudn social media within a business organization.
Social media provides a wild variety of benefits that all levels of a organization can use, ranging from executive communication, team management, project coordination, sales prospecting, competitive intelligence, and more.
From a strictly ROI perspective, it is often more effective to enable and activate social media to refine process points within a business and to have the bonus value add of some 'marketing perks' when a team or project is properly using the tools.
EXAMPLE: From an HR and recruting viewpoint a business can save tens of thousands of dollars in recruiting fees every year. A typical headhunter charges %20 to %40 percent of first year salary. A $150k executive role would cost $30k to $60k in fees. A social outreach campaign to a small group of employees already on the payroll can be managed for $5k to $10k.
EXAMPLE 2: By using social media from a competitive intelligence perspective, you can detail 5 to 25 like-minded businesses operating in your industry. Using social network analysis you can create lead lists and map out potential targets (could be used for sales, recuiting, vendors, etc)
EXAMPLE 3: By understanding GPS, Mobile, and Search audience usage you can define popular keywords and trends that gain additional exposure for your business. This data can also allow you to map out areas of low competition and high worth niches so that you don't have to go 'head to head' against a competitor with bigger budgets.
As for audience metrics... I haven't seen a single professional niche that doesn't use social media for work related purposes. We've worked in multiple high-security and regulated industries that have an incredible usage of social media. There is an inherent driving force for people searching for information to do things more efficiently where social media content providers answer those questions. This means that technicians, doctors, financial analysts, and civil workers use search and social to make informed decisions on a daily basis.
From where I sit, this is a time where savvy companies need to keep a pole in the water with almost everything that looks like it could hit. Ignore the iPad phenomenon at your peril. Facebook is the big dog, but seems to be quickly reaching the point where they are as big and as unresponsive to customers as Microsoft. I doubt Facebook will be the next big player in Social Media - the ones to worry about are the guys in some garage or living room with the Next Big Idea that nobody's yet heard of. And, of course, the way people interact with datat (read: iPad) will change the way they use social media.
As a designer, I find the big issue for social media is design. I don't care how cool your value-add is, or how wonderful an idea it is – if the user experience is bad, it's a non-starter. For years, my go-to, multi-platform solution was Adobe Flash. Not any more. Apple effectively killed Flash when they banned it from the iPad. Problem is, HTML5, while it is a soltuion, falls into the "not ready for prime-time" category, when compared to a mature technology like Flash. It's better than no solution at all, but the tools to really make HTML5 work just aren't there yet. That leaves dedicated apps. And the dev tools for dedicated apps are a mixed bag.
From a client point of view, looking at a social media strategy as the junction between web design and online marketing is, I think, fairly limiting and narrow-minded. The only way I know to develop a workable social media strategy is to keep your ear to the ground, set your strategy in sandstone (so you can change/evolve it quickly) and to USE THE TECHNOLOGY YOURSELF. If you're sitting in an ivory tower boardroom, asking yourself 'what is all this hullaballo about social media?' you've already lost. Buy an iPad. Use it. Follow the tech blogs. All of them. And interact with people online. Get a personal Facebook page. Upload pics. Connect with friends. This is NOT something you can synthesize. The medium isn't just the message – it's the entire experience.
Further sites such as Twitter can become multi-dimentional for the business by pushing marketing information to the followers.
If the problem is that your prices are too high or that your employee was rude, wouldn't you like to know that? The at least you have the opportunity to either explain or apologize and create a connection! Feedback is a gift! It may be an overused saying but if you can't see that your customers are telling you something about how they feel, believe me they will tell others in other forums that you can't control.
I am not suggesting that banks or investment advisors or lawyers give advice though those that have begun to demostrate a keen expertise have found their business to increase because social media is definitely about finding people with expertise.
Once again it is not a one size fits all nor is it a matter of one paradym taking charge over another. If you get too caught up in the "social marketing furvor" or even in the "mobile" marketing hype you forget that audiences are the sum total of all messaging, selling and brand marketing exposures.
I would say more that a well thought out and executed social media strategy, particularly one with strong content drivers (video, end-user cross talk, blog, informational or instructional white papers etc.) effectively integrated with mobile, website, e-mail and, if your audience targeting efforts identified it, any traditional media needed to prime the online pump is the true baseline strategy starting point.
It is fair to say though, given the amount of complexity and the constant state of functionality flux social sites seem to have, that social marketing (media or otherwise) is now a critical concern in a well rounded marketing plan and requires a clear and committed strategy to succeed.
This is driven by the following: the confidential nature of what they do, major company crackdowns which prohibit use of social media while at work and by the massive workload on these folks in todays environment.
My own anecdotal observations indicate social media has been populated by sales types trying to out post their brothers.
Tim, social media is not about the integration of off-line and online marketing. It is, first and foremost, about engaging people in the co-creation of media.
Frank F., social media is fundamentally different than the media environmnet in which traditional marketing strategy has evolved, which involved analyzing, segmenting, targeting and pushing content to consumers. Social media invites consumers to participate in, extend, and share media, leveraging their own creative contributions and their credibility within their social network. It's really a totally different paradigm.
Joe, one of the big lessons of the media landscape over the last 5-10 years is that NO company has complete controll of its message. Nothing prevents customers from discussing, praising or bashing a company in any forums they find online. That's why some companies find that if they invest in these forums, and participate alongside their customers, then can learn from and perhaps influence them.
Frank H., the survey you site, and/or your definition of social media, are flawed. Engineers were some of the earliest users of social media, if you consider bulletin boards, technical forums, places like slashdot, IBM Developer Works, to be social media, which I certainly would.
The mistake you should warn your clients away from is misinvesting in social media where consumer brands, rather than b2b brands, are discussed.
I appologize if I sound annoyed but your generalizations, although followed by fair input on each of the specific observations, are quite insulting in a group of folks you don't know and frankly, in may case anyway, you don't have the credentials to support your opinions authoratative value.
I would be careful about your written input in future if I am somehow misunderstanding your input.
These are discussion forums and I expect most people value a respectful and spirited give and take.
I mention this for those that want to take the deep dive on social media.
I believe that to be successful in social media, it must be seen as an extension to the core marketing strategy. Social is simply another channel that consumers use to get educated, get feedback, share results and in some cases to actually complete the commerce transaction.
To me, the strategy must be customer centric and you should map out where you can intersect with your customers. But to simply have it point to your website, is very short sighted.
Social commerce will emerge from true integration of buying triggers into the social experience and understanding the engagement ladder. http://www.solutionzmedia.com/images/wommladder_FINAL.jpg
It is a matter of deciding what that means for any particular business.