In February, I spoke at the Online Marketing Summit in San Diego about 5 key areas social media marketers in large enterprises should think about.
With some exceptions, most enterprises today know they need to have presence on the interactive web. They are allocating budgets, resources, and include digital strategy in their marketing goals.
A recent study from MarketingSherpa shows enterprises are, on average, planning to allocate 50% more budget in 2010 to social media marketing budgets.
And while some enterprises get things right—most still get most of it wrong. In 2009 a MarketingProf’s survey (as posted by Brian Solis) revealed 53% of CMOs were unsure about their returns from Twitter activities and 50% were unable to assess the ROI of linkedin or industry blogs.
- Enterprises are reactive. They focus on tactics like getting a page on facebook or on getting a twitter account instead of strategically building their digital identity and digital goals. Once launched, they face a range of issues—from inability to drive users to action to inability to respond to negative comments to poor internal collaboration and boiling politics.
- Enterprises use the wrong resources. Being reactive, and lacking the understanding of what is involved in creating their presence on social media, implementing a sound plan, and instituting the right processes internally—enterprises resolve hire the wrong resources. Back in December, Clorox reportedly announced it was hiring an attorney (an attorney!!!) to oversee its social media activities. Not as extreme, most organizations end up crowning an internal resource who doesn’t have the necessary knowledge or skill set, they hire self-proclaimed gurus, or they turn to budget-draining agencies who claim to provide social media service but who do not have experience in online customer psychology strategies.
- Enterprises try to use their existing mental models. They either try to bend old methodologies to the new customer—using social media to run surveys and push promotions—or, they try to bend the new customer to their existing methods, sticking with old plans and attempting to force the customer to follow processes that no longer hold.
At the core of their failure to monetize social media, is the fact that enterprises today fail to realize is that customers’ behaviors, and their psychology, have changed drastically with Web2.0 and social media channels. Enterprises traditionally only focused on behaviors: how to grow awareness, how to simplify use, how to encourage word-of-mouth. They fail to register that people’s psychology is shifting and this lack of expertise in customer psychology renders many enterprise social media tactics useless.
So what should enterprises focus on today?
- Make sure you have a vision-driven strategy. Strategy alone is no longer sufficient—it needs to speak to the greater vision of your company as a digital entity. What does your company want to be in the digital age? How do you want your customers to see, think, and feel about you online? How similar or different is it from how you want your customers to view your actual products and services?
- Think about owning your content. While social networks are free for now, nothing’s free forever. Ning, facebook, YouTube, twitter are all proprietary “locations” your customers go to and where they deposit bits of data on a regular basis. These networks are already running data analysis on their members and will have more information about your customers—the customers you paid to acquire with hard work and good products—than you will ever have and they’ll charge you a load’a money to access that information. To ensure you have access to your customers wherever they are, consider using open-source solutions like Drupal or cross-network solutions like Looppa to help you have both the most complete view of your existing and prospective customers’ behaviors and needs and to build meaningful experiences on YOUR location in which customers will want to partake.
- Leverage the right resources…the right way. The larger the organization, the more effective the right outside resource would be to the growth of your social media practice. Outside resources are excellent for bringing a fresh and deep understanding in areas that are new to the organization, helping you gain speed while the organization adapts its policies, and helping to set processes, and educating the organization before they transition out while internal resources take the front row.
- Build alignment across the organization. To be successful, you must create alignment across key functions in your organizations and a work flow process. Marketing may be putting up great messaging about the company and its offering, PR may be getting it to the right places, but when you get a question or complaint, Supports needs to be right on it, providing help while sending the same messages you worked so hard to create. Employees—your employees—are already on social networks. Do they know what to do if they see a complaint? Do they understand the implications of posting work related information online? Or even commenting while their work information is visible? All this needs to be part of a plan, a process, a framework everyone can work from. It may change—it WILL change—but at least you have a foundation to work from.
- Plan to evolve and adapt. It took man 15 million years to evolve from the monkey, radio 38 years to reach an audience of 50 million people, laptop only 4, and a tweet….a few seconds. Whatever plans you’re making, they should include a balance between a solid foundation and flexibility in application.
And…one more important thing to think about:
Social media, in the end, is a woman’s world. Oprah, Mari Smith, Janet Fauts, Ariana Huffington, Xeni Jardin, and Melinda Roberts are but a few examples of women with loyal following who are about sounding their voice and making a difference. In its nature, social media is about relationship, connection, personal expression—all those things women have always been good at and men, well, less so. As the Web continues to give us more ways to connect, transcending distance, geography, culture, and economic status, it is women that companies and marketers should keep in mind. Women make more than 75% of purchasing decisions, they spend more time, and in more than one, niche groups, and are the fastest growing user group on Facebook and like-networks.
Enterprises who look to start, or who have already launched their digital strategy, should re-evaluate their strategy to ensure it is for its vision-driven, that they are structured to continue and own meaningful content, that their resources are truly the best ones for their goals, that they have created an internal alignment process across the organization, built-in ability to evolve, and, that they focus on women as both buyers and decision makers.
You can download the full presentation here. It has additional details for enterprises who are just starting, have some digital media strategy in place, or who are on their way but looking to take it to the next level. As always, comments are welcomed!