The danger of content-centric strategies in Social Business:
Let me preface this short post with the catalyst behind it – this article by Sarah Shearman for Marketing.co.uk: “Content key to marketing in social media says P&G exec.” Let me throw a few bits and pieces of the article your way, and we’ll get started.
Content is the best currency in social media, according to Usama Al-Qassab, e-commerce marketing and digital innovation team leader at Procter & Gamble.
Speaking at a panel debate at the Social Media World Forum today (29 March) on the role of social media in traditional marketing strategy, Al-Qassab said: “There is a lot of talk about social commerce, but the average person is not yet there yet. On sites such as Facebook, the majority of people do not go there to purchase and still prefer their traditional online retailers. In order to monetise social media, it should not be seen in isolation and needs to be integrated into the wider marketing mix. But unless you have content, there is no point. The content you deliver and the investment behind that is key, much bigger than straight media dollars.”
And this (edited for brevity):
“To grab people’s attention in social media, you need to do something amazing and to do this, [what] you need is a function of how good your product is and how human you appear. The less good your product is and the less human you appear, the more spectacular, giving and generous the thing you do as an organisation needs to be.” – John Willshire, head of innovation at PHD
“There is so much content out there that is great and excellent, [but that] does not mean anyone will be able to even see it. The only way you can get people to see things and talk about things is by giving them a big push. Everything, whether it be business cards, letterheads, the website, the TV advertising, should all drive to one specific thing you want people to do. People don’t talk about things because they think they are great, they talk about them because they think they ought to, or because other people talk about them. Popular things get more popular, as a result of being in the public eye. It is about driving the content and hoping to get additional benefits, when people start getting involved.” – Nick Butcher, global head of social media and digital innovation at ZenithOptimedia.
First, let me begin by saying that I have absolutely no problem with what is now called creative/content, or even a proper focus on it. Content is important. It helps communicate to consumers the value and advantages of buying a product or service. It makes consumers discover, desire, crave, and develop a preference for a product. Now, more than ever, content is easy to share, which ads to its value and power. Content also pulls people to websites, which is pretty damn important if you are trying to keep consumers interested and/or primed to visit websites and click on buttons. For these reasons, content is at the core of all things digital marketing, and great content is worth its weight in gold. You will get absolutely no argument from me there. All of this is true.
But here is where experienced marketing executives around the world – including pretty brilliant guys like John, Nick and Usama – fall into a common trap: Mistaking social media channels for marketing channels.
The problem is simple: Marketing professionals see the marketing opportunity in these powerful new channels – as well they should. Their reflex is to do what they know, which is to adapt their marketing thinking to the social space: shift some of their communications, strategies,creative and content to the Facebooks, Twitters and Youtubes of the moment. It’s their job after all. It’s what they know. “Push” has always worked everywhere else, therefore it will work in the social space as well. (And in spite of what social media purists claim, “push” does work quite well on social channels. Ask Dell and Old Spice, for starters.) The problem, however, is that digital social channels are not solely marketing channels. In fact, they are mostly not marketing channels. They are social channels (hence the nomenclature). As such, they favor dialog rather than monologue. Publishing content and creative might be seen as a conversation starter, but it is not in any way, shape or form a dialog. It is a monologue through and through. And there is the rub.
At the root of the confusion between social marketing and social business are two distinct operational world views:
The easiest way to illustrate the problem is – as always – with a silly picture of old white dudes in suits sitting around a table.
Below is the functional view of social media channels as perceived (and expressed) by marketing professionals like John, Nick, Usama and thousands upon thousands of others around the world, including the majority of CMOs:
This begins a chain reaction of tactical thinking in which “content” – whose importance to the marketing function (on and off the web) is without question – becomes the core component of marketing-driven social media programs: If “content is king” for marketing on and off the web, then content must also be king for marketing in social media channels.
If you have ever wondered why “content” was such a recurring theme and point of focus in the social space – when it clearly doesn’t need to be, this is why. What you are looking at in the above image, and what you are hearing from John, Nick, Usama and their peers isn’t representative of either social business or a social media program for business. What it illustrates is limited to social media marketing: The traditional marketing function adapted and applied to social media channels. This world view reflects a belief that social media management is primarily a marketing function.
This view point is of course a little too limited to work super well in a social medium, where people value non-marketing interactions at least as much (if not a lot more) than marketing-related ones.
Since social media channels and the social space are not inherently marketing-focused channels, the correct approach for a business looking to see both short and long term results, is one that is NOT primarily marketing-centric, and therefore NOT primarily content-centric. Here is what that more integrated social business model looks like:
The above image reflects the nature of social business. This multi-functional approach to social media, marked by the adoption of social channels by all functions and departments across an organization, stands a much better chance of yielding results in a space that is not inherently marketing-focused (and can be, at times, openly hostile to overtly marketing-focused exploitation by companies that haven’t yet thought things through).
This model does not focus on “content” as the key component of its social media program “strategy.” Instead, the model focuses on creating new types of value for consumers and stakeholders:
1. Pragmatically this is done to gain a competitive advantage, or – because the more value an organization creates for its customers, the more win becomes associated with its reputation.
2. From the consumer side, as long as the organization driving such a program seems to be genuinely interested in improving the lives or the experience of people it comes in contact with, as long as it seems to want to foster a relationship with them that isn’t automated, that is as truly human and genuine as an old fashioned handshake or a kiss on the cheek or a warm and honest hello, this business socialization activity won’t come across as one-sided and self-serving. This is important.
Sometimes, the best marketing isn’t marketing at all. It grows out of the personal connections that happen between the impression and the purchase, the thousand little personal interactions that happen between the purchase and the coffee shop, and the bonds consumers form with human beings around them. These human beings can be fellow customers of Brand x or employees or Brand x, or perhaps future customers of Brand x. For the purposes of this piece, let’s just focus on employees of Brand x.
Thus, having your marketing department push content all day long via Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and Youtube channels basically amounts to executing a simple social media marketing strategy. It doesn’t build anything. It doesn’t stick either. It’s just marketing spend at a lower cost and with a higher content velocity. Not bad, but that won’t get you very far in the social space.
Moving beyond “social media marketing” – A short list of business functions in social media that do not require content to create value and yield results:
We have seen how Marketing, advertising and PR all tend to focus on content in and out of social channels and why. (And again, there is nothing wrong with that.) Now, let us briefly look at a few other functions that can find a profitable home in the social space that require zero content creation, publication or curation.
- Digital Customer Service
- Business Intelligence
- Digital market research
- Consumer Insights Management
- Online Reputation Management
- Digital keyword and sentiment monitoring
- Digital campaign or program measurement
- Digital crisis management
- Community management
- Digital technical support
- Digital concierge services
There are more, but you get the idea. None of these are particularly “content” driven functions, are they. Yet… “content” is supposed to be at the core of social media programs, right?
An emphasis on “content” in social media and social communications is simply code for “we think of social media primarily as a marketing channel.” It clearly needs to be treated as far more than that.
Organizations whose executives come to believe that “content” is key or central to social media success, equity or potential are making a grave mistake: Content doesn’t in fact drive engagement, traction or success in social media. “Content” drives marketing and responses to marketing in social media. As important as that is, we all have to be realistic about the limits of this kind of approach.
Realistically, content doesn’t drive customer service, crisis management, reputation management or market research in social media, nor does it drive conversations about customer service, crisis management, reputation, market research or even shopping experiences about a brand in social media. Since these and other key business function are principal building blocks of every successful social media program (for business), you see how an emphasis on content can hobble an organization’s social media program right from the start if its importance is mistakenly overstated.
Content’s relation to old vs. new forms of media:
Old media was 100% about messaging and distribution. Marketing was a monologue, primarily because the media used by marketing didn’t give consumers a voice. Viewers didn’t talk back to brands through their TV. Listeners didn’t talk back to brands through their radio. Billboards, print ads, posters, point of sale displays, coupons and even Web 1.0 websites functioned the same way: You created the message and pushed it out. The channels were basically one-way pipelines with marketers at one end and consumers at the other, the latter being the receiving end.
Social media channels are very different. Dialog rules in the social space. Marketing is at best suspect, and tolerated only if it doesn’t come across as exploitation of the channel by a company. Moreover, marketing in social media is permission-based: Too much marketing, or the wrong kind, and social media denizens will disengage from an offending brand. The wrong approach in these social channels can even do more harm than good for a company that forgets to treat consumers like individual human beings.
Though occasional monologues and messaging can find their place in the social space within a healthy mix of engagement activity, an operational emphasis on any kind of marketing monologue doesn’t work. Put simply, companies need to stop shoving “content” through social media channels like sh*t through a goose for ten seconds, take a step back, and start placing as much – if not more – emphasis on listening to consumers in order to then respond to them and begin a process of socialization. That is at the core of true engagement, and the fuel that will drive companies’ loyalty engines in the social space. The recent emphasis on content creation and publishing isn’t helping companies engage better. Instead, it is creating a wedge between brands and consumers. A wall of noise, even. It has become terribly counterproductive.
Two more things to think about:
1. Engagement and buzz are not the same thing. Pushing content through social media channels to generate buzz is perfectly fine and it can work very well. But don’t kid yourselves: Generating buzz around content or a campaign isn’t engagement. Not by a long shot. So next time someone tries to tell you that content and engagement go hand in hand, ask them to explain the difference between engagement and buzz. Chances are that they have the two mixed up. (Beware: That kind of confusion can send organizations down the wrong road fast.)
2. Saying hello or thank you doesn’t qualify as content. By the same token, having a conversation with someone is not content creation or curation. Responding to customer service requests via twitter is not content either. In fact, the more your communications resemble a conversation or dialogue, the less your communications qualify as “content.” The flip side of this is that the more focused an organization is on content when it comes to its social media presence, the more anti-social it will appear to be.
Strike for a balance. Always. The social space is far too complex and filled with opportunities to put all of your operational eggs in one basket – even the one tagged “content.”
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Social Media ROI: In stores now. Available in print and e-formats. (Click here for a sample chapter.)
Olivier, great post as always.
I especially agree with the last paragraph where you say, “Strike for a balance. Always.” As you point out, social media isn’t a merely marketing channel, it’s an organizational opportunity to add customer value.
I would suspect the marketing group is one of the first departments in many organizations to dip their toes into social media. Hence, the emphasis on content driven, push marketing techniques to the (probably) unintentional exclusion of all the other ways social media can provide value, from customer service to market research, crisis management and beyond.
It’s also why the marketing department (or any other) can’t solely “own” social media. In my view, it really has to be an organizational initiative. It may not have started that way, but that’s where it needs to end up.
Just my 2 cents. 🙂
May be you can look at Social Media from 2 different perspective:
Social Business = SOCIAL media
Social Marketing = social MEDIA
This is the smartest comment of the article. thanks!
Oliver – thanks!
Perhaps the best summary we have seen of the difference between marketing in traditional channels and marketing in social channels.
In the very least, #social has the awesome ability to engage your audience in meaningful conversations about your product, issue areas, company, and brand.
Unlike traditional media; Social media can engage your audience, encourage online conversations that are user-generated, increase your web presence, expand brand awareness, generate publicity (both good & bad) and provide SEO benefits….and that isn’t just pure content syndication!
Strategically social media needs to be viewed in context to the your Customers, your Brand, your Partners and your Competitors.
Thanks for your thoughts.
Regards, Michael @iGo2Group
Thanks, Michael. I didn’t bring up user-generated content, which is a social adaptation of content creation and ads more discussion points to the topic of content’s importance.
Waiting for someone to bring it up in the form of a counter so I can move the discussion in that direction. (In which case I will agree that user-generated content is a much more democratic aspect of content creation and management, and why.) But we aren’t there quite yet. 😉
Agree, and it’s a valuable distinction. But I think that you’re overextending your argument by not qualifying the “content” which I see as relevant to this discussion – that being marketing content. There is a huge amount of other content relevant to social business.
Cofounder Social Business Consulting Group.
I’m not sure what you are talk about. Can you give me some examples?
(Note that we are not talking about media outlets like CNN, BBC, ESPN, SONY, etc.)
I for one appreciate this post as it really clearly sets out your thinking to support your seemingly ‘anti-content’ and certainly anti-content-strategy tweets on this subject! I was trying to understand how someone who’s own personal business brand is so clearly marketed using a (intuitive) strategic understanding of content (from the pithy, controversial tweets, to the SEO-keyword-friendly book title, to the audience-honed blog posts with a careful coating of share-friendly headlines and humour) could be so dismissive of the value of content in social media marketing.
But you have spelled it out. You are not talking about social media marketing! And that’s fine – because, absolutely, social business is bigger than marketing.
I think the key is that a whole bunch of things get lumped together as ‘social’, but in time they will become de-lumped and then everyone’s semantic confusion will pass.
Not only do marketing people think of social channels as push channels, they also think that one of the key benefits is virality – social sharing. People and brands design their content in social channels to be particularly shareable – that is, both easy and compelling to share.
Virality is one of the most exciting aspects of the new social media. It didn’t apply so much to the old social media – eg forums.
I like your list of non-marketing social business aspects, but I think it can be simplified to:
1) Customer service/support
3) Digital PR
Customer service doesn’t need a lot of explanation. As you have championed in the past – it isn’t rocket science: say sorry, try to make things better, be nice. The big issue for companies, I think, in this area is scalability. How to avoid becoming an outsourced, impersonal, *slow* call centre.
Then there is research/insight/listening. Anyone who has had any discussions at all about ‘going social’ will have thought about this aspect. It is probably the first thing that all social media agencies and experts advise. I don’t believe for one minute that the brands interviewed in the Marketing article cited aren’t also aware of the importance of listening to online conversations around the brand (and, hopefully, acting on them).
Finally we have digital/social PR. Now for this one I would argue that there is again a fairly substantial push/content element. A lot of good PR is about devising new content angles to ‘put out there’. Bloggers want great content to work with, just as much as journalists do.
Crisis management is one specific element of PR, but it too can involve content creation in a strategic sense (ie not just responding to specific points, but also planning larger pieces of content, such as a website or a video, that will help to swing the reputation needle back in favour of the brand. BP, for example, undertook some incredible online content initiatives in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.
I totally get that social business is about far more than creative social media marketing. Some of the best companies may be quietly listening to customers, engaging in useful dialogue around how to shape their business and delivering wonderful customer service. This work is much harder that shoving a large wad of cash at a big ad/digital agency and asking for a high-impact ‘social campaign’. Sadly, at the moment, all the glory is going to the Bloody Old Bloody Spice Man(TM) and his ilk. Virality is being confused with social. And, as you put it – buzz is being confused with engagement.
Thanks for continuing this interesting debate.
It may be the first time in the history of this blog that a comment is longer than the post. That is quite an achievement, so big congrats! 😀
Okay, yeah, so…
1. Thanks for understanding that I am not anti-content or anti-content management or planning. (I still don’t like the “strategy” nomenclature, but that’s a whole other thing.) Content and all of the roles that support it have their place.
What I am very uncomfortable with:
– The commoditization of content at the expense of its quality. (Rampant right now.)
– A lack of editorial skill, and more importantly oversight. (Also rampant.)
– The spontaneous generation of self-appointed “content strategists” who are in fact not content strategists, planners, creators, managers, or even curators. The same people were “social media gurus” last year, and “SEO experts three years before that. Five years ago, I think many of them were word-of-mouth marketing experts, if only briefly.
That crowd is like a plague of locusts, roaming from one hot new specialty to the next, hoping to make a buck while producing absolutely nothing of value. If it starts to look like the next thing is “conversation management,” they will drop content strategy and miraculously emerge from their cocoons reborn as – you guessed it – “conversation strategists.” It never ends.
Aside from that, I have no problem with content, content-focused roles, or anything that works for consumers and brands.
2. The sharing thing is important. Virality, yeah. But it’s still just marketing. People share links. Making your content both share-worthy and sharable is pretty key now, and marketing departments are adapting fairly well to these new dynamics.
I’m a marketing guy by trade, so I love that my profession can be far more effective than it could have ever dreamed to be 10 years ago. It’s pretty cool stuff. But it’s still just marketing.
I saw the same thing happen a few years ago when WOMM was big. I was attending a WOMMA conference in San Francisco, and most of the presentations and case studies were off point: Instead of brands talking about how they were driving conversations about the brand, most of the sessions I attended had shifted the discussion to how agencies and marketing departments were driving conversations about their campaigns. Think about the difference between those two things:
– Conversations about the brand = recommendations for the brand, products or services. (Hopefully anyway.)
– Conversations about a campaign = recommendations for the download of content, mostly for entertainment. An ad, a Youtube video, etc.
You see the difference.
Even down to measurement, these departments and agencies were mistaking mentions and sentiment for their campaigns and the content that drove them with mentions and sentiment of and for the brand itself. Once the campaigns ended, conversations also subsided. Aside from the magic trick, it created data that strongly suggested that well funded agencies and marketing departments could, through campaigns (and the creation of content) produce a lot of positive word-of-mouth for brands.
As it turns out, the conversations were about the wrong thing. What we are seeing in social media today is the evolution of this little error in analysis.
To be clear, I have no problem with generating buzz and conversations through campaigns and content. Quite the contrary, it is an essential part of marketing’s job in the social space. But again, it can’t be the one thing, or even the main thing. The dynamics of effective business activity through social media are more demanding than that. 🙂
3. Be careful not to distill things down too much. You don’t want PR, customer service, BI and Marketing to “own” social media anymore than Marketing alone. We don’t want to create a caste system where some departments take on other departmental functions in regards to the social space (or create unnecessary overlaps).
The more granular the use of social platforms across an organization, the better. Crisis mgmt, for example is not the same as reputation management. Moreover, they are not solely PR functions anymore. Community mgmt and customer service also play a part in that type of activity. So don’t worry about consolidating functions from 10 or 15 or 30 down to 4 or 5. In the end, you’ll find that it is better to let social functions breathe and seed. 🙂
That said, if you want to look at it from a more macro level, you can view social media activity (not roles – I am talking about types of activity) through the customer lifecycle model:
How are your various departments and functions using SM to acquire new customers (marketing is usually in the lead there), develop new customers into better customers (increasing their buy rate or transactional yield, as well as making them advocates for the product or brand), and making them loyal so that they never want to leave.
If you can see the field from that perspective and create an SM program for clients or an employer that does all three things, then you’ve accomplished something solid.
This, by the way, is at the heart of real social business strategy. 😉
Cheers, and thanks for the comment.
Heeey cheeky, my comment wasn’t nearly as long as your post, and your reply to my post is longer also!! ; )
I agree that creating a truly social business is much more powerful than a one-off ‘social flavored’ campaign.
Last year I completed a 14-month contract with a company with 17m customers in the UK, and I consider my biggest achievement in regards to their social media to be training and empowering the contact centre to take ownership of responding to customers in social channels. We also tried to set up a cross-functional social media steering group (with marketing, PR, customer service, ecommerce, etc), but quite frankly the heads of PR and marketing (and even ecommerce) had about as much interest in Facebook, Twitter and blogging as… as… er… in Second Life! I.e. – feck all.
These achievements were far more significant than the social media competition I ran which attracted X thousand entries and X% social sharing. As you are saying – campaigns come and go.
I can see that you are partly motivated in your arguments against the over-emphasis on content by having come across a lot of dodgy ‘content gurus’. I am thankfully not too familiar with these types myself, but the people in the UK I know who help brands with content have a really good understanding of what consumers want and how to create it. We need to get some content strategists on here to talk about their recent projects – the what, the why, the how and… the ROI!
Final thought – community managers have to really get content. They should be creating it all the time and leading the way for their community (just like you are doing with this blog). Content – community – conversation – all intertwined.
I totally agree with Olivier’s statement. There’s a simple quote by Cory Doctorow that summarizes this point of view about content in the social media environment: “Content isn’t king. Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about”. Plain.
Bingo. Very well said.
THANK you, the content discussion has been puzzling my mind for a while now. And as a marketing professional I felt like the marketingcontent centric use of social media = underuse/ wrong approach of the social media capacity / scope .. whatever…
it was an ackward feeling somehow because it simply did not fit the day to day userprofile of my (pre)teenage kids..no such thing as relevant or even irrelevant content they were sharing.. but hell; do they “market” their ideas to a bunch of like more than hundreds/thousands of their friends … way better than many of my marketing colleagues/ consultants -better and faster!
Reading more content on the subject so far had confused me even more, but thanks for the pictures !!!!!my simple common sense brain understands it now!
It’s why I use the pictures. If I just used words, I would just bore people senseless. 😉
social Marketing is one of those terms that everyone knows what it means but can’t be accurately described. At our company marketing is a process of using different visible mediums to let others know we exist.
The most useful post you’ve ever written, in my estimation.
The vast, vast, vast majority of folks do not perceive the difference between social media marketing and social business design. Mostly because they do not know what social business design is, nor do they think it’s particularly necessary.
Why deal with thorny things like cultural alignment, hiring, governance, and integration when you can make a Facebook page and YouTube videos for free?
I do a lot of content marketing consulting, as well as a lot of social business design consulting. It’s interesting to change those hats intraday. My hope is that effective social media marketing becomes the gateway drug for larger questions about how to “be” social, not just how to “do” social.
Time will tell.
In the interim, I co-wrote a whole book (The NOW Revolution) about social business design. The challenge with selling a book like that I’m finding is that it’s the answer to a question a lot of people aren’t yet asking. 😉
You ALWAYS say that. 😀
I guess my posts must be improving. And note that I haven’t taken a blowtorch to anyone recently. Proud of me?
All kidding aside, this topic is more important than the ROI “debate” because it is at the heart of strategy, intent, planning, management and even expectations of success. If a company gets this wrong, then their entire social media hopes will be quickly dashed. An understanding of ROI or measurement or even best practices won’t do them any good.
The more I talk to execs in the B2C world, the more I realize how misunderstood the difference between SM Marketing and Social Business really is in regards to social media adoption. I would venture to guess that the 70% of failed SM programs failed in great part because of this. Entire programs were planned for, built and managed as marketing initiatives rather than… more integrated models.
I think this may become a BIG topic for me well into 2012. I hope we can clear it up fast so more SM programs begin to be successful.
Terrific post, as always. A few observations:
1. There’s something in poker called a tablestake – the amount you have to pay to get into a game. A tablestake only gets you into the game; it doesn’t guarantee how much you will win, if anything.
Great content is a tablestake for any kind of marketing anymore – social or otherwise. It doesn’t differentiate a marketing professional; it’s what one’s customer expects of him/her.
2. There is so much damn “content” available today that anyone’s content – great or otherwise – is, as you say, just a wall of noise we have to find a way through.
It seems to me that the effort social marketing professionals put into “great content” would be better spent on developing new ways to get your customers to speak on your behalf. I process a minute amount of the information that passes in front of me every day; getting a friend of mine to speak on a company’s behalf is about the ONLY way you’ll get a marketing message front of mind with me.
You mentioned @comcastcares as a great example of how to implement a social strategy; I agree, and would add that perhaps their greatest success isn’t in closing problem tickets or in engagement; it’s that through their efforts, they have recruited brand advocates that will often intercept and address or rebuke questions or complaints about Comcast service, often before @comcastcares becomes aware of them. I would expect Comcast to disagree with me if I were to say something negative about their service; I am surprised when people unassociated with Comcast call me out on it.
3. It isn’t unexpected that someone that creates content would think that content is the key to social whatever; they are concerned with content to the same degree that CFOs are concerned with financial performance and CEOs are concerned with revenue growth, profitability, shareholder value, expansion, new markets, etc.
Unfortunately (in my opinion) too much focus is paid to the marketing communication aspects of social media. This has become – again, in my opinion – a lot of self-serving navel-gazing that risks cementing in operating executives’ minds the idea that this “social” thing is really a new MarComm thing. I fear that at best this will delay the serious business of social business, because, in general, the average CEO does not consider MarComm “strategic,” for some bad, but also some very good reasons (Sorry – someone had to put it out there).
If you’re interested, here’s a post I wrote (much less eloquently than you could) about one aspect of this topic.
Again – great post; I like the business vision and acumen you bring to the social space.
Checking out your post in a few minutes. 🙂
Jay Baer is right. This IS one of your best posts ever. 🙂
It’s the French air bubbling up into my brain.
Or… actually, wait. I meant the champagne bubbles. Common mistake.
What’s missing in this conversation is the word persuasion. Monologues in any age fail to persuade. The idea of old v new is a marketing conceit.
Great piece Olivier. Very much enjoyed it.
I work with many radio stations, many of whom insist on pushing their radio content out on social media platforms. They repurpose content previously aired, and send it out for additional consumption.
But the radio stations that are the best at the social media game are the ones who use the various platforms to have an on-going, honest, two-way conversation with their listeners.
Sometimes they put content out there that feeds the conversation. Often that content isn’t generated by the radio station, but is instead content that the radio station genuinely wants to share with their listeners… the very same way two friends might share content on a social network. And quite often that content becomes fuel for additional conversation.
Thanks for your fantastic observations!
Great, great post Olivier.
Content does have it’s place and I think it can be a trigger for conversations; it can get debates going around the content subject. @JamieForster is a great example of this content into conversation.
But I totally agree that the marketeers tend to wrongly assume social media is just a new platform for the same old style of content and broadcasting.
I just love your sentence about “..stop shoving content … through a goose..”!! 🙂
It all begins and actually continues with listening so a conversation and socialisation can get going. Then the magic of connection and know-like-trust can happen.
Thought provoking stuff.
BTW… if you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of Olivier’s book Social Media ROI, then get it ASAP. It is truly excellent and goes into this sort of stuff in huge detail.
My Goodness – Lots to Digest Here, Olivier! But a Post Filled With Passion for Promoting the Usefulness of the Medium. I Belive That One of The Biggest Problems Lie in Fear. It’s What Drives People to Do Stupid Things Like…
+ Hamfisting Information Through the Channel
+ Second-Guess Sound Advice
+ Focus on Numbers Instead of Interaction
+ Closing a Sale
This Leads to (as You Put It) “Creating a Wedge Between Brands and Consumers. A wall of Noise, Even. It Has Become Terribly Counterproductive.”
Yes…Counterproductive…As In, You’re Doing More Harm Than Good…!
Fear Drives This and Fear Keep People From Realizing That This is No Longer About Control – It’s About Being Part of the Conversation. Yes…Being Part of It…Getting Dirty…Showing Your Face…Making Mistakes and Owning Up to It…and Being Real.
I Say, Stop Being Scared and Dive In! The Water’s Warm 🙂
Big Noise Communications
Interesting post, thanks.
In time, I suspect that marketing as a profession will draw more of a distinction between content marketing (and other marketing opportunities in the social space, such as research, insight etc) and the wider corporate use of social media.
It’s essential that other business functions are also fully involved, particularly customer service. Most marketing departments are no better qualified to run social customer service activity, than they are to mange an inbound call centre.
Also, fully agree with your plague of locusts analogy.
This is still a thing? It seems like we address this issue over and over ad nausem – but I guess that’s because not everyone got it when we did. So we have to explain it again. And again. And again.
The problem is as you pointed out – every marketer thinks every medium is a marketing medium only. What other purpose is there in any medium if it’s not to advance an idea (or product, or service, etc.)? Profit. There must be profit in any medium for it to be viable for any corporate endeavor. Certainly you of all people stand behind this since you wrote the book on how to gain ROI in this particular medium. However, what marketers don’t get, nor have they ever gotten, is that people don’t want to be marketed to. QR codes? Really?
“Hey honey, grab your phone, there’s a QR code on that DVD player over there. If there’s not enough marketing content on the cover of the box, just scan that code for more information on what the marketer wants us to know about the product so that we’re compelled to buy it. I love QR codes.” That happens all the time, right? We all LOVE to be marketed to.
Wrong. We don’t. So that leaves ANY content by ANY marketer in ANY medium as suspect to whether it has any meaning to anyone other than those who are seeking out a company’s product or service. In the social channels we don’t seek out advertising. Or maybe we do and I just don’t get it. No, I’m pretty sure we don’t. So as long as marketers (who constitute the biggest sheep herd on earth, if you ask me) think that pushing any content that’s designed to sell shit into any medium then they’re just idiots.
Let them do it. Let them fail. Maybe one of them will do it right, and, like all good sheep, the others will follow. You say you like your 3-4% return on direct mail? That’s low for social if you ask me. If you do social media right, and focus less on pushing content out there and more on developing relationships (i know, it takes too much time to do this for investors) then the return has the potential to be far, far greater than any traditional means of advertising. Why? WOM. We all know it’s the most effective way to advertise. They teach that in the first day of the first class of Marketing 101. Until social media, marketers had no way to generate or monitor WOM for effectiveness. There’s no excuse now. The only problem in this scenario is A) Quality product or service and B) quality interaction with customers. If you have these two things in place, social media is the perfect medium for brands to thrive in.
Except, because not enough are doing this right, the rest of the sheep are too scared to try.
Let’s be done with this conversation and move on.
While reading your comments on social business and why they think the way they do I kept answering with “because that’s what they can measure.”
Content is the only thing they know how to measure. They know how many views it gets, clicks, comments, etc. Even departments outside of marketing, companies want their numbers. Until they learn how to measure everything, they will listen (and probably agree) to your argument, then still ask for content.
The social media world forum where this panel was held ran for 2 days, with sessions around a wide range of different elements of social.
As the Marketing article begins, our panel was to ‘discuss the role of social media in traditional marketing strategy’ with a sub-heading of ‘Integrating social media into traditional marketing strategy.’ The debate was framed with the concept of Paid Owned Earned and specific questions that we addressed were around how Earned media sharing and the world of networked consumers can be integrated into it.
Even with this as the base though, our debate was wide ranging and covered many other areas during our 45 minutes:
– We had Nick Jones from the COI (government marketing department) talking about the difficulties of effecting behaviour change and how the government are using nudges and social media conversation in order to do so.
– Everyone was involved in talking about how Listening can fuel business intelligence, customer service aspects etc and this was discussed at length – from the difficulties around filtering out spam to the complexity of inferring intention and measuring sentiment accurately – and how to best feed this back into the overall business / organisation.
– We had discussion around how recognising and working with communities of interest can feed into product design and marketing programmes
– We also commented around engaging users in conversation and how this is very different to the traditional ways of pushing out messages (eg effective Facebook Marketing is not about shouting sales messages)
– We had discussion around how to best activate advocates
– We had discussion around how to stimulate Earned Media sharing (and the quote you have detailed from me above reflects my belief that driving critical mass to stimulate cascading type of rich get richer effects is key to driving ‘virality.’)
– The discussion around how content has to be interesting has clearly been highlighted (and engaging / compelling content is important if we are to realise benefits from our messages being spread through the effects of peer to peer sharing) but the idea of providing utility and being useful / helpful was a key element of this too.
The Marketing article pulls out some of the key comments in line with the title of our panel ‘the role of social media in traditional marketing strategy’, but does not report the full debate.
I hope these comments help bring more light to the panel session we had!
Only a conversation can build value by Listening and Learning on what others Think and Need. If you look at social media as content driven, basically, you don’t care about what people think.
Social Media has to be incorporated inside the organizational structure, as a contact center and information (inside and out) channel.
I am really impressed with the way you verbalize the differences between Social Business and Social Marketing. You make great points and I particularly enjoyed this, “Put simply, companies need to stop shoving “content” through social media channels like sh*t through a goose…” I LOVE it when people tell it like it is and don’t sugarcoat everything in an attempt to please everyone. Great post!
Great you really make great points and i really enjoyed this. social marketing is really a good way for the publicity of any thing and it is much more easy and cheaper.
Social Media Expert
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Great piece as always. Longtime reader here.
Social business and social media has really a big differences however in world of business both of them are really helpful and you really a got a good explanation about it.In Helsinki Finland many of market research services believe that social media is something that really helpful in business specially now a days.
One of the difficult things for many people to understand fully is that social media is a tool in a very big tool box. It’s now just do this one thing and you will be successful. Online marketing is changing because of the internet on a daily basis. If you want to stay ahead of the curve you need to understand how it all works together. Just like nobody likes to listen to just one person speak all of the time social media channels are as much for people to listen as they are for you to speak. Be sure you are always listening to your customers.
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