In the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of meeting directly with brand marketers, direct marketers, and social marketing professionals. I have conducted education sessions and pitches for clients and moderated a panel at Social Media Week Chicago where the audience was by and large solely social media marketing professionals.
These meeting and sessions magnified a few key business/marketing issues. First off, nothing replaces the value of direct face-to-face engagement with your target audiences. The ability to have direct exchange, conversation, and see/view the participants’ body language provides marketers with the greatest, meaningful insights. (Social media provides strong synergy, but should not be viewed as a replacement for direct target market engagement.) The other key takeaway that I have brought up before, but was punctuated in these sessions, was that there is a great disconnect between marketing professionals and social media marketing professionals.
When I speak to brand clients (marketing professionals) I see a great need to start with social marketing education. The audiences are very receptive as they look to understand what social marketing is really about. Initially there is some skepticism that social media is an over hyped shiny objective, but when you realistically define what social marketing can and cannot do, and paint a picture of what social media marketing success looks like, you see the spark in their eye that they are beginning to get it. Marketers begin to understand the cross section of traditional marketing and new media marketing.
Conversely, when I talk to social media marketing professionals I see the glean in their eyes. They are immediately receptive to the evangelizing of social marketing relationship and trust building as opposed to direct sales and product push. The response is literally, a positive nod of the head. Their body language keenly states, “Yeah, that’s it … why don’t others see it that way.”
The dichotomy of the two audiences highlighted above yields “The Social Marketing Mandate” – it is the responsibility of the social marketer to:
1) Understand the integration points of contact within marketing organizations in order to leverage social marketing
2) Have complete understanding of the business/marketing objectives and approaches as defined by the company’s/brand’s traditional marketing approach.
3) Align social metrics to existing business/marketing objectives and KPIs (key performance indicators).
4) Educate first – don’t jump to a social strategy, plan, and/or education. First make sure the integrated marketing team realistically understands social marketing SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) as it relates to other marketing endeavors related to the brand.
The Social Marketing Mandate listed above is the responsibility of the social marketer. Social media professionals should not expect traditional marketers to blindly accept social marketing. The reality is that traditional marketers still hold the keys to the marketing castle. Social professionals cannot expect unsubstantiated entrance. We must earn our place within the integrated marketing team. It is not the responsibility of the incumbent to open the doors, but rather the new emerging media professional to demonstrate expertise, knowledge, and trust.
While I see many social professional’s frustration with the slow pace of new media adoption, it is our responsibility to drive the evolution. Do not expect a revolution. Educate first. Drive incremental success. Demonstrate and report on success. Earn your seat within the integrated team.
Yes, I an extremely bullish on the power of social marketing and I would hope all in marketing are. But many, many clients I meet are not initially as enthusiastic as I am – they are much more cautious. Thus, I have seen greater successful results when I have gotten to best understand their world first and then educate the power of social as it relates to their perspective and objectives. Far too often, I see social professionals wrap up in the question, “why don’t ‘they’ get it?” Rather the focus needs to be “How can I get ‘them’ to get it.”
The four Social Marketing Mandates need to be owned and carried out by the social professionals. Your turn …
Make It Happen,