Wanted (or not): Social Media Marketers

Discussion
Apr 08, 2009

By George Anderson

Social media is pretty far down the to-do list of most marketers these days
but a few companies including Dell, Ford, Pepsi and Toyota have created positions
to communicate with the public at-large via Facebook, Twitter, etc., according
to a Brandweek report.

There are a couple of impediments to social media becoming a standalone function
at most marketers. The biggest factor is a lack of return on investment to
this point. The other is the view that duties for social media communications
should not fall into a single silo.

A survey of chief marketing officers by Heidrick & Struggles
in Atlanta found that social media was ranked in the bottom third of priorities. "It’s
because of analytics," Lynne Seid, a parter at the firm, told Brandweek.
"The things that are measurable are a top priority. Most marketers see
[social media] as an experiment."

"Most companies just aren’t ready," Matthew
Schwartz, president of MJS Executive Search, said. MJS placed Bonin Bough as
global director of social media, a newly created position at PepsiCo in September.
Mr. Schwartz described Pepsi as "a visionary" in the area of social
media.

Tim Collins, director of experiential marketing
for Wells Fargo, sees Twitter, Facebook and MySpace as the three social media
sites where investments make sense.

"People think that social media doesn’t work. It’s hard to find ROI on
pure social media marketing, but it’s a long, slow build, not something you
see immediate gratification on," he told Brandweek.

Discussion Questions: What do you see as the
potential for social media marketing through Twitter, Facebook, etc.? Does
the opportunity require a more focused effort on the part of marketers including
dedicating staff to handling social media?

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22 Comments on "Wanted (or not): Social Media Marketers"


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Carol Spieckerman
Guest
Carol Spieckerman
13 years 1 month ago

Social media DOESN’T “work” in the traditional instant sales payoff way that many marketers still expect; however, there is simply no better way to create a continuous conversational loop with customers. That matters when remedying “jumping off” points has become job #1 for retailers and brands. If your customer is on Facebook sharing product picks and pans with her friends, microblogging about her service experience on Twitter and, in some cases, sharing her insights to thousands of her followers as one of the exploding number of trusted blogging product advisors on WordPress and other blogging sites, you’d better be there as well. Not everything that matters can be measured; however, that’s no longer a valid reason for not participating!

Zel Bianco
Guest
13 years 1 month ago
Marketers who ignore this powerful trend will do so at their own peril. Al McClain did a good job of summing up some of the comments from the IRI conference including the 4 Moms who run four of the most popular blogs on shopping and consumer goods. It was interesting to see how little the CPG audience knew about the power of blogs and Twitter in particular. One of the women told a story about S.C. Johnson pulling some products that they felt could be conceived as harmful to the environment, etc, voluntarily, and how the blogs picked this up and SCJ made huge points from this. Alternatively, marketers who try to pull a fast one and give you less product in a new package while charging the same price is seen as underhanded and will be called out on it. The point is the folks who run these blogs and have a huge following with Twitter are a very powerful group indeed and should not be ignored. They should be embraced and part of… Read more »
Anna Murray
Guest
Anna Murray
13 years 1 month ago

Social media is very tempting because of the numbers. There are something like 175 million people on Facebook. The challenge is that as yet no one has figured out how to truly monetize all that traffic. People on social sites are engaging with each other. Not your ad.

The same holds true for video. YouTube has video views in the billions. But still, the average internet user only watches 5 hours of online video a month. That may seem like a lot–and it is, compared to five years ago when the number was practically nil. But it’s not enough for marketers to make a major investment right now.

The problem is that online hype is always too early and too hot. Social sites and video no doubt do promise to be important advertising platforms. But the traffic and the PR have arrived way in advance of the solutions that work for marketers.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
13 years 1 month ago

Social media is hot for one reason–it is the future. The fact old-school types can’t quantify it in pure ROI does not mean it shouldn’t be a priority. We know print media is dying and so is cable. I have clients on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube meeting with success because they understand they are planting seeds where customers are indeed looking. I wrote about why retailers should be on FaceBook yesterday, here.

Mary Baum
Guest
Mary Baum
13 years 1 month ago
Brands have a terrific opportunity to get in on the ground floor of social media now, and can make a big impact for very little money. And they should definitely make it a priority. What’s deceptive, though, is that even a major push in social media is going to cost so little that when we look at a marketing budget, even a substantial investment is going to look as if the initiative isn’t a priority–simply because the costs are low. All it really takes is one person to put up a page each on Facebook and MySpace–though I think MySpace is optional unless the target demo is heavily young and musical–and start one or more Twitter feeds. On Facebook and MySpace, the job is to build and maintain personal relationships with the folks who stop by and comment, and to post items of interest, thoughts, whatever, blog-style. Also, people are going to upload media–pictures of their cat eating the ice cream, or a video of their toddler/grandfather doing something silly with the product. The person… Read more »
Marc Gordon
Guest
Marc Gordon
13 years 1 month ago
Let me be the first marketer to publicly denounce the value of social web based marketing from a corporate perspective. I do not believe it does, will, or has ever worked. The reason? Companies have nothing to say beyond how great they and their products are. And people don’t want to hear that. And if they do, it’s from each other. Second reason: People know the reasons companies do things–to increase sales. They are not in it for fun, value, education, or for a social causes. Whereas many people are in it for just those things. Third reason: companies change their focus and message with every new campaign. This makes establishing long term messaging a challenge. Combining the news of a new products with a concern for the rain forests is a bad mix. I would encourage any company, big or small to forget about participating in social marketing, but to use it as a gauge for consumer reactions. Be a spectator and listen to what your market is saying about you. This will allow… Read more »
Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
13 years 1 month ago

Reports continue to underline the amount of product information shared in the social media. Marketers can’t afford to ignore the potential here. New products and packaging receive almost instant feedback–the new Tropicana Orange juice graphics earned a big thumbs down within 48 hours , thanks to Twitter. There are tremendous possibilities, but it cuts both ways. There are lessons to be learned–transparency is critical in these new media.

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
13 years 1 month ago

If companies are truly interested in connecting with their customers, and having a true dialogue, utilizing social media platforms is a perfect way to execute this. Social media allows companies to speak directly with their customers, and more importantly hear what their customers have to say, and do so in real time.

Social media can replace the traditional focus group, and allow companies to receive real-time feedback on new products, new packaging, or simply gain insights as to what their customers want, and why.

Companies are having great success using social media to gain instant feedback, usually within 72 hours. These same companies, the progressive ones, are creating Directors of Community, a position that reports directly to the CMO. As we move forward, this position will gain significant importance within forward thinking companies.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
13 years 1 month ago

Any company that wants to sell to people under 25 had better get on Facebook, and fast….

Phil Rubin
Guest
Phil Rubin
13 years 1 month ago
Marketers have to look at social media for several reasons. Whether it is in the top- or middle-thirds in terms of resource commitment is another story and very company- and industry-specific. Social media provides companies who “get it” as at least a mechanism for listening to customer (and non-customer) conversations, something that heretofore was not possible with any kind of scale or reality. Traditional media is one directional, with brands pushing messages out to customers. The responses from customers, albeit few in number, come directly back to customers via email, letters (yes, people still do write letters) and phone calls. Social media bridges the large gap between these two mostly unidirectional communications. It is searchable, multi-channel and multi-format. And it is impactful. There are leaders and their are followers. While the companies mentioned above are at the forefront in terms of their commitments to social media, no one has fully figured it out. There is a lot to learn and only one time to begin, and that is now.
Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
13 years 1 month ago

Social media is exploding and there are so many different ways you can take advantage of it. Companies that are not looking at it now will be behind the curve. Do it or become extinct!

Anyone want to look at the number of newspapers that didn’t read the tea leaves and are closing?

Max Goldberg
Guest
13 years 1 month ago

Participating in social media just makes sense. Consumers want answers and information. What better way to deliver it than through social media. Social media can help companies engage their consumers in a constructive dialogue and even better their products.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
13 years 1 month ago

Social media is indeed a powerful force but the current wave of discussions reminds me a bit of the tone of discussions in the early days of the Internet. Of course social media is a critical tool. Of course companies should get in early as opposed to later. And, of course, the rules of social media and the behavior of individuals within social networks will evolve and change as the networks mature. It’s easy to forget that evolutionary curve. What you see today is not what you will get in the end. Jumping uncritically on the bandwagon isn’t strategy.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
13 years 1 month ago
I don’t know if I am the oldest member of the BrainTrust, but I surely have been around a long time. For 40 years the argument for the use of any media other than TV for advertising is that you could not determine the ROI. But, when challenged to determine the ROI on TV, the answers were always pretty weak. Even today, technology has provided us with the tools to come up with more convoluted ways to justify the impact of TV advertising. The more convoluted the get, the more I scratch my head. What marketers should be worried about more than anything else is if in 10-years anybody will be watching TV advertising at all. Social media is what advertising is all about. The objective of advertising is to reach a customer, whether current or future. The more the advertiser personally connects with the customer the more successful they will be. And not only can they reach and connect with that customer, they can do it efficiently. AARP would not spend any advertising dollars… Read more »
Edward Herrera
Guest
Edward Herrera
13 years 1 month ago

I just don’t see people who are socializing wanting anything to do with trying to get them to purchase. I spend time on Facebook and YouTube and the last thing I want is to be sold while I am retreating from the world in cyberland.

I do agree with using the information to better understand the social audience. This reminds me of the first days of the internet and figuring out how to use it to make money. I would not abandon social marketing altogether but try to better understand its place in your company. I would rather work with cell phone companies and give dollars off your bill if you sign up for text message sales.

Jonathan Marek
Guest
13 years 1 month ago

Most brick-and-mortar retailers and CPGs haven’t even gotten their Search and Display ad campaigns right yet. That is, they haven’t truly demonstrated the “online to store” driven ROI from more basic internet ads. In fact, most don’t even have real knowledge of ROI of FSIs, radio, or other traditional media (and correlation-driven “media mix models” do not constitute real knowledge).

And, by the way, didn’t industry advisors raise huge red flags about everyone who was missing out on the internet back in 2000? Did any physical store retailer’s business really go awry because they didn’t push hard enough online? Of course not. So why should they focus on social media now, in this climate, just because the same advisors are screaming again?

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
13 years 1 month ago

I do worry that the most zealot proponents of “marketing” on social networking sites tend to overlook the fact that these jobs produce and manage exercises that are really just an easy, cheaper and (temporarily) more modern form of advertising hype, or spin. In any generation or economic age there will never be a substitute for quality products that work–and for customer service/satisfaction that well, satisfies. Hopefully, the majority of hard product work being done behind the scenes will still focus on these key elements to drive sales and create loyalty.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
13 years 1 month ago

Social media is certainly getting a lot of press and certainly has huge impact in some cases. Knowing where, when, and how to use it are critical for success. Rather than abandoning current programs and jumping into social media usage, companies need to think strategically about what they would like to accomplish, whether social media is the best choice for that goal, and then try small experiments. Integrating social media with current programs can be done that way and can grow when successful tools are found.

Warner Granade
Guest
Warner Granade
13 years 1 month ago

Facebook is about connections and conversations. I would expect that business would want to be a subject of those conversations, and they expand virally. I’ve seen a flashmob generate through Facebook that exceeded the organizers expectations. Cheap and instant.

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
13 years 1 month ago
Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are moving beyond the “I am going to Sara’s house now” or “I just had a beer with Bob.” I thought I would share some simple ideas on how to use Twitter and facebook as a cost effective marketing tool. 1) Create special promotions that you only announce on Twitter that last for X period of time. “Save 20% on all CDs at Best Buy between 7pm-9pm tonight!” 2) Send a tweet when there is a software upgrade with a link to the upgrade so people can quickly download. 3) If your store is having an author speak, send a quick tweet that lets people know the location hours before the event 4) A restaurant could send out a message during a slow day of the week (Monday) with special offers. 5) Procter & Gamble is handing out Free samples of a new product in Central Park from 1pm-4pm. Send a tweet and let people know at 10am. The people that show up are clearly interested in the… Read more »
M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
13 years 1 month ago
Buzz, buzz, buzz. Social media is all about the buzz, appealing to our need to gossip and to reveal other’s secrets. And even to pass along lies and fabrications. For marketers, the very nature of social media presents at least two significant challenges: 1.) Like gossip, it can’t be counted on to be accurate or even to maintain its original form, e.g. Wikipedia. 2.) No effective share of the buzz can be purchased or controlled. Accuracy and share-of-voice are two bedrock marketing fundamentals that cannot be managed in the social media. But to overlook social media because of ROI concerns would be shortsighted. Heck, show me a legitimate ROI for an advertising campaign–you can’t. Thus, if marketers are comfortable with the vagaries of investing in classical advertising, they should also SCUBA a bit in the social media ocean while users are surfing above; If only to be able to attach a “why” to any eventual decision to bypass these media. But remember this: The source and message from any social media marketer can be completely… Read more »
Rick Boretsky
Guest
Rick Boretsky
13 years 1 month ago
It’s great to see such an intense discussion on this topic. Obviously not everyone has jumped on this train yet. You talk about ROI, which is always crucial, but the beauty of this social media stuff is it’s very LOW COST of entry. Setup a Facebook page, maybe write a few blogs, tweet, and respond to your customers on twitter, and your in. There should not be a very significant start-up cost to all of this. I totally disagree with Marc Gordon, if a company has nothing interesting to say about its products, philosophies and values, then it’s a probably not a great company. Of course, everyone is using social media and any marketing tool to increase sales, but a company that can generate some interest and interaction because of who they are and what their brand is about, will be more successful in this new generation (IMO). As already mentioned, it’s not just about sharing information, but also listening. There is a lot of chatter going on and you can easily listen to what… Read more »
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