I recently ready a blog post titled – “The Depressing State Of Social Media Marketing“ by Mitch Joel (btw, I highly recommend both his podcast and the blog) lament about how brands are not realizing the true potential of Social Media.
In my opinion, the vision being proposed by Mitch or by Chris Brogan, Seth Godin or Nilofer Merchant is the extreme end of the spectrum of possibilities for social media.
However, what we don’t realize is, that in order to be able to realize that vision of enabling connections/conversations, the entire marketing strategy and execution (to a certain extent, of the entire organization) needs to change. Such a change is not only too complex but lacks an owner/sponsor within most organization, due to which is not even attempted.
In my opinion, every brand has its own set of challenges and priorities and I think it is ok for each brand to use Social Media as they want to use it, as long as it helps them in overcoming these challenges.
What does that mean? A brand might decide to go the full way and want to realize the vision proposed by these stalwarts, i.e., start creating connections and having conversations. What does that mean for a company like Coca Cola or Virgin Group or a Dell Computers or Walmart or Zappos or Louis Vuitton? Will coca-cola want to have a connection/conversation with all their customers? I don’t think this is even practical for such an organization.
However, Louis Vuitton might want to connect and engage with all their customers. Now the question is what do they do?
- In order to have a meaningful connection or conversation, the brand will need to know about the customer, his preferences, his past purchases, his interests (which are publicly shared on the various social sites) and
- This is only possible if you have the CRM system running at Loius Vuitton is able to identify a customer through their social profile and collect and organize these information and create different personas for their customers and
- Then create conversations around his/her interests.
This is no mean task if you have to do this even for a few hundred customers let along a few hundred thousand customers.
What Coca-Cola might want to do is to create an specific kind of association with their brand (Happiness). So, their content and social strategy would be very different. They would like to engage with communities instead of individual customers, which they have done very well in the past year using some amazingly integrated campaigns, which has led them to win the marketer of the year award at Cannes.
Some other brand might want to use social media as a channel for service and support. Their engagement with their customers is more in the real world than in the virtual world. That is fine as long as that is part of a deliberate strategy.
Expecting every brand to use social media from our own perspective is not being fair to these brands.
I think as long as the brands have taken a strategic decision (which supports their overall business strategy and goals) about how to leverage social media, they should be fine.
Though, I understand and totally agree with the vision that these experts have about social media and the impact it can have on businesses, I also think that the state of affairs is not so bad after all.
What do you think?
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