Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why Social Media isn't a strategy

Gareth over at Brand New posted a short musing on why we need to concentrate on building Social Brands rather than executing Social Media campaigns.

I agree. And I've said it before, Social Media is not a call to inundate the web's social channels with advertising, it's a call to change the way you do business.

Why? Because the Web has changed/is changing the way people work and play. It's not simply another media medium.

Your brand/company exists in two places these days - its physical existence (where you work, the employees, the products, the infrastructure) and its digital existence (its website, search engine presence, online conversations about its products/services, customer complaints and compliments, etc.) . The digital presences needs as much care and thought as the physical one.

Imagine if a customer tried to contact you in the 'real world' and you had never thought to put in a phone line or build a door to your front office? We take these things for granted in the physical world - it's laughable to think of a company without a phone system, or indeed a front entrance!

Why do we NOT take them for granted in the digital world? Why do all companies not have blogs? Why won't some respond to online conversation? Why is it difficult to find the email address of the CEO? Why do they ignore customers trying to have fun with their brand or product?

Why? Because they are not paying enough attention to their digital presence. Not managing it properly. Not investing in it. And not using any of the tools consumers are using to help them navigate this new frontier.

As long as 'digital media' is relegated to a subset of Marketing and 'Social Media' a subset again, this will remain the norm.

Social Media is not a strategy, it's a call to manage your digital presence with as much care and thought as your physical one.

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spagan44 said...

It's not that companies are just managing it is that companies are scared. Scared of the unknown...scared of not being in 100% control of what happens. In the physical world, you can control everything (to some extent).

Moving full force requires relinquishing control. How many CEOs and CMOs do we know that are willing to do that?

The good ones, I guess.

Paul Soldera said...

Yeah I agree. There is definitely a fear issue. But control is getting taken away, bit by bit, whether the CMO or CEO likes it or not. It's really a shifting in perspective of how you view the role of the customer. Whereas you used to sell stuff to them and it was largely transactional (and a part of the relationship will always be just that), there are now powerful feedback loops that circumvent traditional channels (customer sat surveys or phone-in numbers) and have built in multipliers - think customer reviews in Google searches, You-Tube videos, message boards, blog posts, all of these have huge potential for customer feedback (both good and bad) amplification. Much more so than anything in the past.

There is no putting your head in the sand and wishing that away.

So I agree, but you and I both know fear is no excuse.