Social media adoption? Don’t make the typical marketers’ mistake!

by Steve Seager

At the end of this slightly ranting post I’m going to leave you with some great advice. But bear with me & read through. If you are leading a business into social media, it’s well worth your while. I promise.

So first, my rant. The more reports I read on the state of social media adoption the more I am worried that we will end up yet again in another tornado of social media hype.

Not the “Hey! It’s here & it will save the world!” social media evangelist hype, but the “Hey, it’s a corporate tool that needs a systematic, strategic, integrated, holistic, cross-channel, MRM & MPM approach” gobbledygook type hype.

In other words, the corporate world has another toy to play with. Before you know it, social media will be fully subsumed into existing processes, jargonized, complexified, canonised and finally, standardised to hell. Damn. It was sure to happen. And it’s not good.

Take a look at this IBM/Unica annual survey; ‘The State of Marketing 2011’ to see what I mean. Or rather, don’t. I’ll make it easy for you.

The bottom line findings & recommendation of the report

The report shows that the good news is that marketers have definitely woken up to the new opportunities for marketing in social media. And the race is on for effective measurement, integration across divisions and technology platforms.

But as the report concludes, the bad news is that: “With rapid channel proliferation comes mass confusion. In an environment already suffering from information overload, each new channel, tactic, and tool generates a flood of data that demands attention.”

According to the report, the number one issue that marketers need to address is to ‘turn data into action’. The recommended action: “First, take a step back to see the whole marketing picture, not just the latest hot tactic creating buzz.”

And that’s where the study leaves us.

And that’s where I disagree.

The elephant in the marketing room

Content is barely mentioned in the report. And neither are content creators, buyer personas, consumer insights & the like. Only the challenge to gather, integrate & analyse output data in terms of ROI, metrics & the technology that enables it.

So I would ask the obvious question:

What’s the point of gathering and analysing data from social media marketing activities & then trying to rationalise it into a marketing ‘bigger picture’ if we don’t have a handle on the content and audiences that influences all these interactions in the first place?

It’s content & audience behaviours that are the drivers here. Even your social media marketing strategy should be designed around them.

So what’s that great piece of advice I was going to leave you with?

The gold in the report: focus on content and audiences

If you dig down to page 22 of the report, in a sidebar, you find the gold in that thar report. It starts by saying;

… too many social media strategies treat their audiences as one, undifferentiated mass. Marketers should collect social media data and attributes in their customer profiles and use this information to enrich segmentation strategies.

Good advice. Their recommended steps are what’s in this screenshot below. You can click on it and take it away with you.

A final note

If the language in this pic above is still a bit American marketing speak for you, here’s a Euro friendly version. The links are the tools or more info. Ciao for now. I’m outta here!

  • Create content optimised to tap into those searches and add value to the conversations
  • Measure the results with some analytics & bitly (both free & easy to use)
  • Do more of what works. Less of what doesn’t. Adjust content accordingly.
  • And finally, watch out for people who like & share what you do. They are your influencers. Be nice to them.

Do this, stop thinking like a marketer, start thinking like a communicator & all will be well in social media.

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