Friday, 17 February 2012

It’s time for corporate to stop playing with social media!

There are now enough examples and evidence to know what social media marketing strategies and tactics work and don’t work. Enough for organisations to move beyond the baby steps of adoption where about two thirds are in the UK are today.

The Board of directors are the culprits
The issue is that most organisations, particularly at board level, are still holding back their organisations by not at least gaining a fundamental understanding of the medium.  Nor, and perhaps as a result, or they recruiting the right calibre of skills into the roles of digital and new media.
I have interviewed and worked with scores of organisations on their plans for social media and many have said they now want to make social media strategic. However, they put their hands up and say that the issue is that they don’t know what strategic means when it comes to the adoption of social media for marketing and communications. So I decided to help them by defining what strategic means. 

What does strategic mean?
I have been able to define strategic by examining what companies are doing well and can point to great examples of success and examining what is holding other companies back. In this blog I will not mention any names mainly to protect the reputation of the laggards. 

Firstly, I can tell you that strategic does not mean employing a campaign manager or a creative marketing agency to take charge of your social media plan and running it. Nor does it just mean setting up Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Google+ or any other platform account, irrespective how funky your agency might make it look. And it also doesn’t mean overtly promoting or advertising your brand, products or services in online communities, you will drive members away in their droves if you do this. 

However, I am compelled to say that most companies are still doing all three of these tactics with sometimes disastrous results or at best attracting a few passive ‘fans’ or ‘followers’. So what’s the strategic approach I here you cry!

Well the bad news is that getting the best from social media is not straightforward and is resource intensive and demands a long term plan of action. But the good news is those companies who are finding how to go about using this new channel are getting some amazing results.  Below is a chart that I dare you to study that I produced.  I have identified eight business competencies that successful organisations are tackling to get social media working.

Industry regulation is no reason not to use social media
Levels of adoption do depend of the legislation that applies to different industry sectors. For example the financial services and pharmaceuticals sectors are regulated. But that hasn’t stopped those more ambitious organisations to use social media to great effect. For example, the Amex Open Forum online community for SME’s is held up as the benchmark for brand hosted social platforms (master-minded by a Viapoint Associate I should add). Whereas, I know of another credit card company who ban the use of all social networks and smart-phones only because it seems they lack know how.  Guess who is losing SME market share?

Despite heavy regulation, Pfizer are using social media forums to help support, educate and enthuse young scientists and school kids that are looking to go into the medical profession. You see all it needs is the right approach and a framework against which social media can be implemented across an organisation to exploit the benefits and mitigate any risk.  Hopefully, my framework will help to take you on the right journey and starting now. Please feel free to contact me if you would like me to talk you through it -

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