RIP Social Media: Long Live Social

Social Media ExpertsWe published an article with a similar title in August of last year – Marketing Is Dead: Long Live Social. Related posts include Goodbye Marketing – Hello Social and I Am Not a Suspect.

The main premise of these previous articles was the declining effectiveness of traditional approaches to sales, marketing and PR as a consequence of the power shift to constantly ‘Connected Customers’. Anyone not convinced about this power shift should read The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott and The End of Business as Usual by Brian Solis.

We will be discussing these issues further during our presentation at the forthcoming CIPR Conference at the end of January.

This post asks two similar questions:

As we enter a New Year, is it time to confine our current use of Social Media to the dustbin? Are we totally missing the point about emerging social technologies and platforms?

follow-us-like-usIn our experience, most organisations are 'Doing Social' without 'Being Social'. Many are guilty of trying to shoehorn traditional marketing and PR strategies onto new social platforms and networks; platforms and networks that have completely different characteristics, features and behaviour compared to more traditional marketing communications channels.

What is the difference between the traditional 'buy our stuff' approach to sales and marketing and the so called new media approach of ordering customers to 'Follow Us on Twitter’ or 'Like Us on Facebook’?

Try answering the following three questions:

  • Why should I follow or like you?
  • Why should I visit your web site?
  • What is the value proposition for me?

‘Connected Customers’ are not passive sheep just waiting to ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ your brand; or to be driven to your web site?

Social State of MindMany of the most frequently asked questions about Social Media fall into this ‘Like Us and Follow Us’ approach:

  •  How do we get more people to like us on Facebook? Yes you can run a competition but are you engaging with the right type of customer? Probably not.
  • How do we get more followers on Twitter? You can start by following thousands of others. Ten to 15 per cent will follow you back. End result is your Twitter timeline will be crammed with nonsense and you will be drowning in a sea of noise. Free software is available to automate this ‘follow you, follow me’ approach.  DO NOT use such tools.
  • Follow the same approach on Linkedin and you will probably be issued with a spam warning.
  • ‘I am doing social but not getting any sales in return’ – that is because Social Media is not a sales channel.

One of the worst examples of this type of approach are agencies who encourage clients to set up blogs for the sole purpose of driving traffic to their web site through the strategic positioning of key words regardless of whether blog content adds real value to the reader or not.

Social Business Evolution2013: The Year We Become Social?

As we enter 2013, it is time for a fresh approach to social – an approach which emphasises the importance of ‘Being Social’ as well as ‘Doing Social. A major shift in strategic thinking is required; from using Social Media as a channel to becoming Social Businesses/Organisations.

Most of us now understand the ‘technical’ hands-on aspects of using the main Social Media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc. But do we understand the major behavioural shifts taking place as a consequence? Social Media is called Social Media because it is meant to be Social.

The issues and challenges involved in becoming a Social Business will be a major focus of the Energise 2-0 blog moving into 2013.  We have also updated the content of our very successful ‘Mastering Social Media Programme’ to include current best practice thinking on Social Business – see Mastering Social Business Executive Programme.

For the moment, we leave you with the following thoughts and questions:

Social Media ListeningShut Up and Listen: The basis of a good conversation is to listen. Has your organisation set up a Social Media Listening system that allows you to monitor online conversations relevant to your brand? Are you developing actionable insights from this? What progress has been made in delivering Social Customer Service based on active listening?

Focus on Business Goals: Social Media is not awesome.  It is not about accumulating ‘Likes’ and ‘Follows’ or being cool and funky.  It is about using emerging social platforms to achieve agreed business goals and objectives – both externally and internally (see below).  Does your organisation have a clear Social Business Strategy with agreed objectives, KPIs and targets?  Are your social efforts fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business goals? Are you taking a medium-to-long term view where success is measured in terms of the quality of your online network, relationship strength and your ability to leverage that relationship?  These are the foundations for sustained growth and profitability in a Social Media era.

Social Mindset: Is your organisation social? Does it have a social mindset? If not, who will champion the change in culture required? This needs to come from the top. As Brian Solis states, leaders see what others don't and do what others won't.

External: In your external use of Social Media, focus on adding value and building the right type of relationships. Don’t worry too much about numbers.  Develop and implement an agreed Inbound/Content Marketing Strategy fully aligned and supportive of your core business objectives.

Social Business ProcessesInternal: Undertake a Business Process Audit to identify areas of improvement from applying social thinking and social technologies internally within your organisation. There are many low or no cost social technologies available for achieving internal efficiency improvements and cost savings.  Don’t think your company is too small to become a Social Business. One area for immediate improvement will probably be the use of low cost collaborative software for improving internal communications, knowledge transfer and employee engagement. Think about opening up part of your Internal Social Network to your Most Valuable Customers.

New Performance Measures: Develop and agree new performance measures which take into account all of the above. Don’t just focus on short-term sales, likes or follows.

Organisation and People: Empower your staff to become social.

Are you ready to become a Social Business/Organisation in 2013?

As usual, comments and feedback are very welcome.

You can find a good list of relevant articles, books and videos on Social Business here.

Jim, Alan and Vincent


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  1. Susan McNaughton
    February 11, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Can you give a good example of “Think about opening up part of your Internal Social Network to your Most Valuable Customers” – how would companies do this?

  2. Jim Hamill
    February 17, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks Susan

    One of the simplest ways of doing it is to use a tool such as Salesforce Chatter. You can set up any number of private groups for your most valuable customers, limiting access to only those who need it.

    Alan and I are starting to use this very successfully for our most valuable clients.

    Hope that answers your question.

    Take care.

    Jim H