Digital Marketing, Social Media Strategy

Why Social Media Isn’t Marketing At All

two faces of social media 198x300 Why Social Media Isnt Marketing At AllWhat’s the worst thing about social media? The name “social media.” It’s incredibly vague, and that lack of definition has enabled “social media” to become a watered-down, catch-all term with different meanings for each person – like “recreational drugs” and “process improvement.”

The Characteristics of Social Media:

  • Duration: Ongoing
  • Target: Current and previous customers
  • Goal: Repeat purchase, brand loyalty, brand advocacy
  • Owner: Internal customer service, external public relations agency

Social media gives brands the opportunity to engage on a personal, human, and powerful basis with customers. Customers LOVE this, because they’ve been talked AT for so long, that being talked WITH is incredibly exciting and flattering.

We’re at the forefront of a trend whereby smart companies recognize that “social media” really isn’t marketing at all, but a set of company-wide beliefs about the primacy of the customer and the customers’ power to dictate the company’s success or failure.

This belief system is best manifested in honest, transparent, ongoing communication with customers in the customers’ venue of choice. This is scary for brands, because it’s the communications equivalent of Alabama playing a road game at Central Arizona College. But, Comcast and many others are proving that trading the 800 pound media gorilla for 8 million tweets and blog posts results in raving fans.

This is truly “social” media, whereby consumers feel they have a relationship with a company. Done right, there is no beginning, middle or end to the conversation, and brands don’t feel the need to ask for the sale every 30 seconds.

The Characteristics of Social Media Marketing

  • Duration: Short-term campaign
  • Target: New customers
  • Goal: Initial purchase or lead generation
  • Owner: Internal or external marketing/advertising/interactive team

Companies that don’t yet accept the premise that humanization of their brand can be transformative to their business, have begun using social media too. Why wouldn’t they? The decline in TV ratings and the speeding decay of print readership has been replaced by social media consumption. Advertising follows eyeballs, and social media is attracting more eyeballs every second.

The traditional marketing paradigm of finding where your audience congregates, and communicating to them in that venue is the strategic underpinning of the many social media marketing campaigns now debuting.

Papa John’s Facebook page is a good example. By all rules of marketing, it’s a smash hit, with 187,000+ fans, tens of thousands of coupons redeemed, and millions of dollars in revenue generated. How’s that for social media ROI?

There are hundreds of great examples of companies using the Web for promotions, contests, special offers and other campaigns. (I’ve created several with Mighty Interactive for Fujitsu, Nike and Exide Batteries). The only problem with these efforts is calling them “social media”. Consumers don’t create the content, and there aren’t conversations between the brand and its customers. They are marketing campaigns that are the post-modern equivalent of the direct response TV ad. They do, however, often use social media outreach to promote the campaign.

So, from now on I’m calling these campaigns “social media marketing” to distinguish from ongoing, conversational “social media” efforts. For clarity sake, I hope you’ll do the same.

When working on a social media marketing campaign, a best practice is to consider how you’ll engage in social media AFTER the campaign ends. Can you use email to invite consumers that purchased or signed up to have a dialog? Can you collect Twitter handles on your contest entry form?

Folks that contributed to my thinking on this post (via Twitter): Beth Harte, Amber Naslund, Becky Carroll (thank ladies)

Photo by Andrew Eick

Related
  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/ KatFrench

    Jason – Good thinking. I especially appreciate the recognition that there’s a place for both. I think eventually, both models will evolve into something that’s neither called “social media” nor “social media marketing.” What that might be, who knows?

    KatFrench’s last blog post..Brand Reputation Case Study: Network Solutions

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com KatFrench

    Jason – Good thinking. I especially appreciate the recognition that there’s a place for both. I think eventually, both models will evolve into something that’s neither called “social media” nor “social media marketing.” What that might be, who knows?

    KatFrench’s last blog post..Brand Reputation Case Study: Network Solutions

  • http://chuckwestbrook.com/ Chuck

    I think you’ve made a sensible distinction without taking the popular route of decrying all but the most open uses of these tools.

    Nicely done–thanks for your thoughts.

    Chuck’s last blog post..Bidding Adieu to FeverBee

  • http://chuckwestbrook.com Chuck

    I think you’ve made a sensible distinction without taking the popular route of decrying all but the most open uses of these tools.

    Nicely done–thanks for your thoughts.

    Chuck’s last blog post..Bidding Adieu to FeverBee

  • http://www.scottmonty.com/ Scott Monty

    Well put. I think it comes down to “are you in it for a campaign, or do you view it as a commitment?” To me, that’s the difference between social media vs. a social media marketing campaign.

    Scott Monty
    Global Digital Communications
    Ford Motor Company

    Scott Monty’s last blog post..How You Can Use Social Media to Help the U.S. Auto Industry

  • http://www.scottmonty.com Scott Monty

    Well put. I think it comes down to “are you in it for a campaign, or do you view it as a commitment?” To me, that’s the difference between social media vs. a social media marketing campaign.

    Scott Monty
    Global Digital Communications
    Ford Motor Company

    Scott Monty’s last blog post..How You Can Use Social Media to Help the U.S. Auto Industry

  • http://customersrock.net/ Becky Carroll

    Thanks for the shout-out, Jason! I agree with you that Social Media is a confusing term. When I teach my classes on Marketing via New Media at UC San Diego, the first homework asks the students “What is social media?” I get back a variety of responses ranging from “it is social networking” to “YouTube” to “websites”!

    I think I am with Scott on the campaign vs commitment idea. To me, marketing itself should be a conversation (it will be if a company is customer-centric), and social media provides us another set of tools to dialog with our customers. I believe that marketing is more than just a campaign! :)

    I love this discussion, worth time to continue.

    You rock, Jason!

    Becky Carroll’s last blog post..Thank You! Celebrating my blog’s 2 year anniversary

  • http://customersrock.net Becky Carroll

    Thanks for the shout-out, Jason! I agree with you that Social Media is a confusing term. When I teach my classes on Marketing via New Media at UC San Diego, the first homework asks the students “What is social media?” I get back a variety of responses ranging from “it is social networking” to “YouTube” to “websites”!

    I think I am with Scott on the campaign vs commitment idea. To me, marketing itself should be a conversation (it will be if a company is customer-centric), and social media provides us another set of tools to dialog with our customers. I believe that marketing is more than just a campaign! :)

    I love this discussion, worth time to continue.

    You rock, Jason!

    Becky Carroll’s last blog post..Thank You! Celebrating my blog’s 2 year anniversary

  • http://twitter.com/imadnaffa/status/19094421641 Imad Naffa

    Why Social Media Isn't Marketing At All http://bit.ly/b5tZZA #sm

  • http://twitter.com/volver_aamardf/status/20985634850 imadnaffa

    I'm at Swissotel in Chicago, IL http://gowal.la/r/21333

  • http://twitter.com/danielulichney/status/19094509615 Daniel

    RT @jaybaer: Why Social Media Isn't Marketing At All http://bit.ly/b5tZZA

  • http://twitter.com/gpspakistan/status/20461928273 danielulichney

    Mother of former Director JPMC, Prof. Mussarat Hussain passes away – Associated Press of Pakistan http://bit.ly/b6GOoC #pakistan

  • http://twitter.com/centrafair/status/19095263319 William Sayavongsa

    RT @imadnaffa: Why Social Media Isn't Marketing At All http://bit.ly/b5tZZA #sm

  • http://twitter.com/nozomu_studio/status/20958105709 centrafair

    共有 http://tinyurl.com/26n7tl2 (360嚴重bug 玩了COD MW2以後會讓SNK五款XBLA 遊戲解開體驗版軟體鎖?) http://plurk.com/p/6vwpr2

  • http://twitter.com/christinekorda/status/21418254357 Women Social Media

    The Conflicting Faces of Social Media http://bit.ly/9zki8C via @addthis interesting :) #socialmedia #in #sm

  • http://twitter.com/googlesberry/status/21419364908 Stephen Berry

    RT @Christinekorda: "The Conflicting Faces of Social Media http://bit.ly/9zki8C via @addthis interesting :) #socialmedia #in #sm"

  • http://twitter.com/fahrenheitem/status/21851348333 Fahrenheit EM

    Worth a 2nd read! | The Conflicting Faces of Social Media from Jay Baer's blog: Convince & Convert http://j.mp/9xsoEl

  • http://twitter.com/onpath/status/22263283665 DIALOG Magazine

    Is social media even marketing? http://ow.ly/2sB6H

  • letstalkandchat

    If you’re looking for webinar software, then check out Evergreen Business System. Its perfect for marketers and let’s you automate the scheduling of your webinars, build your list, and even follow up with your webinar registrants. If you’re going to buy Evergreen Business System, then you might as well get a free bonus! So check out http://www.mikelmurphy.com/evergreen-business-system-bonus-webinar-software/ and you’ll get a great bonus that tells you how to create a webinar, what is a webinar, and a blueprint for making a successful one. None of the other people offering bonuses are offering this. Hurry in case the guy (some dude that worked on Lord of the RIngs) offering the bonus decides to pull it down.