I had an interesting conversation with Mack Collier and Gigi Peterkin over at Mack’s site the other day. Mack had posted a topic that got me thinking “Should Marketers Use Social Media Personally Before They Use it Professionally?”
It evolved into a discussion orbiting whether or not a company’s c-suite seemed more believable to clients and employees if they used social media. We also discussed how this use interfaced with social marketing. Some of my take-aways from this discussion were:
1. Must social media make money for a company?
2. Should company’s social media interface be viewed as a beneficial “operating expense?”
3. Does building customer value not translate into a stronger “bottom-line?”
4. If you communicate via social media and you partake of social marketing in the same channel, will you be viewed as disingenuous?
The All Mighty Dollar
When Mack and I seemed all too “dreamy” about the virtues and values of corporate social media, Gigi said “…gang, we’re fooling ourselves if we think this is all a nice communications initiative and not a marketing one.” While that was “water in the face” it was a spot on.
Business, no matter the smiles and hand-shakes, is still business. Dollars spent are generally expected to dollars make. Social media, as Gigi pointed out, is usually funded by marketing budgets, not philanthropy. The profit motive is alive and well within a corporation’s social media strategy.
I believe this profit orientation within social marketing is a slippery slope. I do not believe a company should be marketing product in social channels, they should be marketing the company brand.
There should be an avenue where the customer can interface positively with the company, a channel that reminds the world of the company’s human face, and someplace where their psyche will not be bruised by yet another marketing ploy.
Is it unequivocally necessary that a company’s social marketing strategy make money, or at least not cost money?
Beauty is Pain
I have often remarked that women can be in quite some pain and discomfort to look beautiful, to appear attractive (Come on! How can three inch heals be a joy to wear for 8 to 10 hours? Hint: they’re not). It’s the same for a business: companies must take pains to appear valuable, attractive if you will, to the customer. Even if it hurts.
Social marketing works. Companies have seen that the value generated between customer and firm can lead to brand loyalty, more sales. Isn’t the generation of customer enthusiasm profit?
Is it necessary that a corporation’s implementation of a social marketing strategy lead directly to dollars gained? Do the pencils, chairs, toilet paper, post-its, or the PR department for that matter, lead directly to more dollars? Generally, this is the cost of doing business. Its accepted.
Perhaps a re-tooling of perception is in order: social marketing is a warranted expense that has positive value for both the customer and the corporation.
Don’t Crap Where You Eat
We are bombarded night and day, from various angles and directions, with advertising. It has reached such a point of saturation that people actively tune it out. This has led to an increasingly frenetic hunt for the next marketing “in.” It’s a cycle of continuous irritation.
People are wise enough to know what they want when they want it. They don’t need to be led to water. What each of them does need to know, however, is that they are taken seriously. They do want simple, genuine communication and not a concealed one-two marketing punch.
Mack Collier has years of experience on me in the social media realm. He believes that marketing product within social media channels is viable. As long as value for the customer is generated in concert with marketing product, he believes it can be a win-win. While I would prefer product push be divorced entirely from a corporations social strategy, I can endorse Mack’s point of view.
My contention is that there is not much to stop a corporation from turning a meaningful customer communication channel into another irritating product “billboard.” As one marketing avenue fails, c-suite pressure will build to perform, produce, and profit by other means.
Do We Really Need a Metric for Corporate Social Marketing?
I understand profit and loss. I understand that its difficult to profit by something if it can’t be measured. But faith and loyalty are intangibles that defy measurement, yet a company has it or it doesn’t. In order for a brand to succeed, it must have a loyal customer base. The correct implementation of a customer oriented, value based strategy is a “force multiplier” and can convert to dollars profit.
What do you think? Does corporate social media strategy need a metric to link it to dollars gained/lost?
Does corporate America need a paradigm shift in how it views and utilizes social media?