I think the most common question I get is, “Why did you get into social media?” If fact I was just asked this on the Tonya Hall Show just yesterday. (The program should be archived shortly if you missed it.) I am not a millennial (birth date ranging somewhere from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s) and so many assume that social media is just for the generation that have been exposed to instant communication technologies (email, texting, IM, mobile, Internet, etc.) all their life.
But let’s first take a step back. I took my first computer class as a senior in high school in 1980. We used teletype computers based on time sharing where you actually placed a telephone handset in a cradle to connect to a computer. Later that year, my teacher brought in the first Apple computer and said the entire computer was there in front of us – what a shock. Do you know how much more powerful your smart phone in your pocket is than what we used back then? Boy – does that date me … no problem … evolution is a great thing – if you let it happen.
Skip ahead a few years … I go to college and get a BS degree in Computer Engineering; get a job as a software engineer, but my professional interests are untapped. One hint should have been that when I was in college, most of my friends were psychology majors. I went back to school (while working full time) and got a Master of Engineering Management, majoring in the Marketing of Technology. This was an extremely important event in my life. As I later determined, “marketing” is the psychology of business – or at least one needs to be a “consumer psychologist” to be an effective marketer.
What does this mean to be a consumer psychologist? It is pretty simple. It means understanding your target audience – their perspective, not yours. It means speaking and acting to their wants, needs, motivations, and behaviors while at the same time recognizing their dislikes. It means using this information to out-smart your competition and create meaningful, valuable differentiation that clearly distinguishes your brand in a most positive light relative to your competitors.
I learned the importance of marketing to be completely integrated into every business aspect. If marketing is just something at the end of the business process for your product or service via advertising, communication and overall lead generation, the brand as a whole is doomed. After all, customers want value, not a cute saying or logo.
This reminds me of something an old boss of mine (who later got fired) once said to me. He said, “Steve – you’ll never be successful in marketing. You’re too honest.” Too honest? Marketing is NOT about spin. It is about understanding your customer, delivering them true value, communicating that value, and utilizing influencers to help you spread the word.
So having shared with you my 20 years of marketing in 3 ½ minutes, do you see the magnetic force of social media on me? For someone that really understands effective traditional marketing, social media offers tremendous opportunities. No, it is not a silver bullet and the cure all, but it is an awesome vehicle for successful brand marketing.
I mentioned four high-level attributes of efficient marketing. Now let me point out why social media plays an important role with these:
• Understand your customer – just start listening. There are some excellent social media monitoring tools to use and some are even free.
• Deliver value – it is about sharing useful information, not selling.
• Communicating the value – there are so many environments where your customers congregate that allow you to engage with them.
• Capture influencers – use social media to identify your advocates and grant them added privileges, rewards, incentives, and thank them.
I don’t mean to say these are the only positives of social media. There are so many more for other parts of the business organization (customer service/support, research, etc.) I am just saying that as a marketing executive, social media provides a fundamental and significant shift for marketing. Social media is a new marketing toolset. But one can not just jump on the bandwagon without being rooted in traditional marketing fundamentals – they are still as applicable as ever. Social media is for the honest marketer, because if you BS something, you’ll be called on it in the social public forum.
Last week, I read a great article by Mitch Joel. It was titled “The Big(ger) Marketing Shift.” I highly, highly recommend you read it, but then give it some deep thought with regards to what it means for you and your brand (personal or professional). In the article Mitch suggests, “The consumers have changed. Marketing must change.” Right on. This is the essence of the magnetic force social media has had on me.
I love marketing. I love analyzing the target audience. I love defining the new business process and new points of integration. While others are comfortable doing the same old, I love exploration in new territory. I love evolution.
What about you?
“And may the force be with you.”
Make It Happen!