Digital Marketing, Social Business, Social Media Strategy, Integrated Marketing and Media, Social Media Staffing and Operations

Getting Serious About Social Media

My clients at ExactTarget yesterday published a terrific, free executive briefing called Letter to the C-Suite: Getting Serious About Social Media.

It includes a dozen letters written to C-level executives (in general) about what they need to do to take social media to the next level. Reading them through, I really wish we could have done a series of Webinars, because the content is simply outstanding.

Contributors include:

  • David Baker from Razorfish (brilliant email and CRM guy)
  • Olivier Blanchard from Red Chair (the social media ROI guy)
  • Jason Falls from Social Media Explorer (expert on social media integration)
  • Sergio Balegno from MarketingSherpa (social media data genius)
  • Ann Handley from MarketingProfs (disclosure: client & goddess of marketing content)
  • Joseph Jaffe from Powered (social media as customer service advocate – check out his new book)
  • Kyle Lacy from Brandswag (top-notch social media trainer)
  • Valeria Maltoni from Conversation Agent (B2B social media and marketing strategy crackerjack)
  • Shelly Palmer from “Digital Life” (tech TV personality and prognosticator)
  • Trey Pennington from The Pennington Group (social media Renaissance Man and new author)
  • Jeff Rohrs from ExactTarget (social, search, email convergence leader)
  • and me.

This is not some sort of ExactTarget sales pitch (although you do have to fill out a short form to download it, which I abhor). In reality though, there’s exactly two paragraphs about ExactTarget (and CoTweet) in the entire document – which is a very digestible 14 pages – and they won’t bug you after you download it.

I do hope you’ll download it and come back and tell us what you think in the comments.

I don’t want to poach or poorly paraphrase anyone else’s content, so here’s what I wrote in Letters to the C-Suite:

To The Executive Team:

I realize everyone is telling you social media is a unicorn, but maybe it’s just a horse?

Sure, social media differs from the marketing we’re used to in that it puts the company and our customers on the same – rather than opposing – teams. But beyond that, isn’t social media more similar than different, compared to what’s come before it?

I’m not talking necessarily about acquiring new customers, but rather using social media to keep the customers we’ve already earned. Maybe social media isn’t the new television, but rather the new telephone and CRM?

Why would a consumer “friend” us or “fan” us or “follow” us in social media, unless they were either already a customer, or at the very least had us in their purchase consideration funnel? The average Facebook member becomes a fan of just two companies per month, yet is exposed to thousands of brands during that same period. People don’t experimentally engage with brands in social media, they engage with the brands they already support.

Thus, we need to understand precisely how the company will “be” social, not just “do” social media, and then consistently manifest that relationship between us and our customers across the entire spectrum of communication tools: our Web site, our blogs, our Facebook page, our Twitter account, our email program – and even our customer service organization.

Our strategies and expectations for social media are in reality a complement to what we’re doing in email and lifecycle marketing. Isn’t our Facebook page just a post-modern email newsletter? Keeping us top-of-mind with our best customers, engaging with them, giving them offers, and trying to turn consumers into advocates?

If we integrate our CRM and social media, we can use our social interactions with customers to learn more about their needs and desires, and improve the relevancy of our email communications and offers. Couldn’t we use our social media outposts as targeted landing pages for our email and direct mail communications? Why aren’t we asking our blog visitors and Facebook fans to subscribe to our email newsletter?

Further, we need to add the same level of testing and measurement rigor to social media that we do to email and CRM. There’s a best time to send Tweets. There’s a best time to post to Facebook. There’s an optimal structure for blog post headlines. There’s a reason that some videos show up on the first page of Google, and others do not. All of these answers are knowable, and if we commit to testing and optimizing our social media efforts in 2010, we’ll go from having a social media presence, to having a social purpose that drives meaningful ROI.


Jay Baer
Convince & Convert, Social Media Strategy

(in the actual book, my signature looks like I had my kids do it. note to self: do not provide signatures with a Sharpie)

Check out the book if you get a chance. Thanks.

Facebook Comments


  1. stanphelps says

    Nice job Jay. I love the quote about going from having a social media presence to having a social media purpose.
    I hope senior management comes to understand that social marketing is not about 'them' or their 'brands'. It's about their customers. Go 'above and beyond' when serving your customers. Treat their customers right and give them something to 'talk, tweet, blog and post to Facebook about'.

  2. says

    I like it. This has been my concern for quite some time. Social media is not some other discipline that should warrant throwing business concepts out of the window. Twitter and Facebook are not strategies. They are tools. Tools are easy. Strategies are hard. The fundamental shift within the organization towards transparency and customer service is the bottom of the iceberg, while tweeting is just a tip. Do you have systems in place that allow you to plug in all these new customer touchpoints and communications into enterprise-wide systems? SM is here to make communication more human, scalable and actionable. I like your FB group as a newsletter analogy.

    With all this being said, there are nuances in communication styles on, say, Twitter vs. other channels. As different as social channels are from corporate communications of yesteryear, they are not that different from network building and nurturing that we always did. Funny, I have just been composing a 2-part post on SM engagement on the Biz360 blog….

    Measurement is also different, and also similar. Whereas not everything maps neatly to a sale from a single tweet, Olivier Blanchard makes a good point differentiating between financial and nonfinancial impacts. But that's sort of similar to brand-building efforts of TV and print from yesteryear, although it's now done in a one-on-one way that makes you feel special instead of like cattle that a message is unloaded upon. So importance for socialCRM is huge, as it helps tie together the loose ends. Huge area of focus for us at Biz360.

    P.S. this is my 100th comment on Disqus, and I couldn't think of a better place to have it :)

  3. says

    Great Article! I agree fully. It has helped myself get a better look on what I am doing with these Social Media sites. I also agree with Stanphelps – I love the way you say going from social media presence to have a social media purpose. Thanks for Sharing!

  4. says

    Nice Post…Thanks.

    I look at it this way – Like Any other Direct Marketing or Internet Marketing Strategy – Social Media Stratey should be just that – a “strategy” – with a purpose. Today, I still believe we are in the Social Media “Honeymoon” period.

    Think of it this way. For most small business owners, basic seo and search marketing strategies are still byond them – yet, given some basic concepts – see… – even a novice can go a long way. Social Media Marketing is heading in that direction. In a couple of years, the sheen will wear down and the honeymoon luster will wear off – BUT…Social Media is here for a while – and pretty soon, even a novice will be able to pull enough information from online sources to give him / her a roadmap for putting together an effective “Social Media” Marketing Strategies…Thanks Again…

  5. says

    Jay – totally agree with the core thesis; I've been proposing that we think of social media as a symptom, not a strategy – a symptom of the need, and the opportunity, to once again think about “behavior” rather than “messaging.” To recognize that the actions of marketers, product managers, customer service managers, and so on through the organization, are all behavioral moments of truth, and all opportunities to build fans for the brand.

    That said, you kind of lose me with a disavowal of social media to meet potential customers for your brand. The supporting data cited – consumers fan 2 brands or less per month – is a pretty weak case. First off, there are more ways to engage in social media with a new brand than fanning a FB page, but I know you know that, too. And I'd argue that fanning a brand's page may be less of a commitment than tattooing the brand's logo on my ankle, but it's a heck of a lot more than having seen your TV spot. The fan has raised their hand, in some small way, and that is an opportunity. Is working hard to build 50,000, or 15,000 or even just 1,500 fans meaningful for a large consumer brand? Clearly 500,000 is better, but you also have to take the network effect into account. At ten friends each, 5 million people seeing 500,000 people take an action with my brand, assuming they engage in something that drives a wall post, can be quite meaningful. And you very rightly, and eloquently, remind your readers of the importance of measuring just what that behavior does mean for the brand. (Though I'd also argue that it can be done at such low cost vs. mass media that brands should be willing to get busy and figure out meaning at the same time, and not use measurement challenges as reasons not to engage.)

    And yes – social media should offer the email newsletter. How smart is this, and how infrequently does it happen? Thanks for the reminder to focus on what works already.

  6. says

    Thank you Jay. Certainly Social Media is more about relationships and helping to serve existing customers. It's about retention and nurturing advocates more than about acquiring new customers. We agree.

    But there are many still making promises about the “unicorn” that will in the end only create disappointment. A recent Chadwick Martin Bailey and iMOderate study was reported with a sub-head “Social friends and followers feel more inclined to purchase from the brands they are fans of.” Well of course they do — in most cases the reason they becamse fans and followers was because they already are customers of the brand and were seking more information, usage hints, coupons, products news, etc. Unfortunately the article makes it sounds like a different kind of cause and effect whereby consumers who never had much connection with a brand suddenly decide to become fans, and then start buying the brand.

    That's just not happening. In most cases Facebook and Twitter don't create fans and followers out of space, but has the potential to build on prior relationships and experience with a brand. Suggesting otherwise is making a false promise and leading to the idea that Social Media can somehow totally replace other forms of advertising.

    Doug Pruden, Customer Experience Partners

  7. letstalkandchat says

    I just found a great company that builds websites for info products. To keep your costs low, they’ll mentor you on how to create your site, design a marketing funnel (one of the guys works in Hollywood and makes really slick videos), and the other guy programmed Myspace. If you’re looking to have professional web design for your small business and not waste any time or money then check their site out. Check them out:

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