We Cannot Segment the Digital Revolution

Blogs. Social media. Interactive. Transmedia. Content marketing. Social TV. Smartphones. Tablets. Mobile. Are all these things really separate? Or should we looking at them holistically from the user and consumer perspective?

Digital RevolutionA few things happened this past week that helped to solidify for me that the digital revolution is a twisted web of marketing synergy and all attempts to segment individual executions and pin-pointed results are flawed. I’ll take you through three “a-ha” moments that happened for me this week that resulted in my position that ”we cannot segment the digital revolution.”

First off, Michael Lazerow, former Buddy Media founder and CEO, now CMO for Salesforce Marketing Cloud, wrote an excellent piece, “3 Steps to Become a ‘Customer Company’.” Lazerow’s 3 steps to become a customer company are:

1) Customer Companies Listen to Every Customer
2) Customer Companies Publish Great Content
3) Customer Companies Service Customers Across Every Channel

The article also includes a video from Salesforce Chairman and CEO, Marc Benioff. Benioff makes the point that a customer company is connected … connected to customers, partners, employees, and products.

Then this week I had the pleasure of reconnecting with a great social friend and transmedia expert, Karine Halpern. (Please check out some of Karine’s slideshares, she has some great information to share with you.) Karine and I were talking about moving transmedia forward to deliver commercial success. Now most brand executives are just learning what social marketing is, so I would venture to say, most don’t understand what transmedia is. Transmedia “is the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies.” Sounds pretty close to content and social marketing integration, but it is slightly different. But the point is that most brand managers are beginning to understand the importance of storytelling, content marketing, and social marketing, so I think the strategy, plan, and execution should stay in that context. That is, keep the marketing plan in the context of what the decision makers understand.

There is always a new buzz term coming out. The new buzz is good for hype and headlines, but if we are really concerned about executing and delivering results, we must stick to fundamentals. And these fundamentals must be in context for brand managers and marketing executives to understand. Marketers now realize the importance of digital marketing, but they remain confused about terminology. I see these decision makers understanding the need for:

• content and storytelling,
• social marketing,
• interactivity and engagement,
• the role of digital influencers and the importance of advocates,
• positive online review presence,
• integration of owned, earned, and paid media, and
• mobile.

So maybe it is best to keep digital marketing terminology in these contexts and not slice things down in greater detail.

And the third point to highlight comes from some marketing headlines about Coca-Cola … “Buzzkill: Coca-Cola Finds No Sales Lift from Online Chatter.” Eric Schmidt, senior manager-marketing strategy and insights at Coca-Cola stated “We didn’t see any statistically significant relationship between our buzz and our short-term sales.” He also cautioned against reading too much into the research, noting that it covers only buzz, not sharing, video views or other aspects of social media.” And yet these elements not included in the study are the power of social marketing.

Quickly after this initial report, Coca-Cola’s Wendy Clark, senior VP-integrated marketing communications and capabilities, defended Coke’s social media stating it was crucial. I’ll put it this way … what is the value of having your audience feel positive about your brand? Does it turn immediate sales? No. But does it define long term customer loyalty and brand sustainability? Yes. If your audience feels strong about your brand, when it comes time to make a purchase, their brand preference will show.

Clark turned to Coke’s own blog
to state that it was true … social buzz or chatter does not generate sales lift in isolation. But she also added that the key point is that “no single medium is as strong as the combination of media.”

And I agree. As I tweeted earlier in the week …

SocialSteve Coca-Cola Tweet

(If you want to see to two videos I referenced, they can be viewed at “Social by Design.”)

So if you pull the three examples together that I have highlighted above, I am suggesting that marketing strategy, planning, execution, and measurement is getting too siloed. We cannot segment the digital revolution. The consumer uses all digital technologies, platforms, and services to support all of their purchase decisions. If you are to be a customer company, you will follow the behaviors and actions of the consumer and build a holistic digital strategy. If you are responsible for a specific digital marketing effort, find connection points with other marketing efforts. Build synergy. And lastly, and probably the most important, no one digital marketing endeavor should be credited with sales. If you look at the journey of the digital consumer, you will notice that they hit multiple touch points before ultimately making a purchase. Should we be crediting the last digital touch point as the only sales enabler and element that carries an ROI? This is flawed.

Thus I strongly suggest that you do not segment the digital revolution. Long live the revolution and what it stands for … connecting with the customer.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve



Filed under behavior, blogging, brand communication, brand marketing, brands, content marketing, digital media, loyalty, marketing, marketing plan, owned-earned-paid media, sales conversion, social business, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social reviews, socialmedia, SocialSteve

5 responses to “We Cannot Segment the Digital Revolution

  1. Steve,

    On the Coca Cola item… The problem, in my view anyway, is that the Ad Age article on this had a headline and lede that didn’t tell Schmidt’s full story. The negative headline got nearly all the play. The in depth story is what mattered, as it related what Schmidt and Coke really had to say.

  2. Forget all the boardroom chatter and what they do and don’t want even if they are chasing Richard Bransons coat tails as an innovator they waited 40 years to really be sure of him, now it’s ok to say he’s a messiah.

    You hit the nail on the head Steve by saying the consumers are using more than one platform. Too many people stills ay Linked in for business, twitter for chatter, Facebook for fun and family. That sort of talk is so last century, there is a real need to locate, listen and engage with the connected community that makes sense to you – not your neighbour. Which mean analysing all kinds of things from life to analytics. Cross boundaries online and offline when analysing data form face to face chatter to online discussions don’t jist take in numbers take in what people say and why and how you can interact.

    I have been saying the same for a few years now, maybe I am just not positioning myself right but my case study is 30 years of experience, this whole thing is not just about tech stuff. It’s about people as soon as businesses get into the mind set that they are talking to people they will the ‘get it’

    Let coca cola say what they like, the real people taht matter couldn’t care less they are just getting on with life, talking, pinning, posting, commenting and importantly sharing – they could be doing all that about you and your business if you do one thing be ‘accessible’.

  3. Jim Matorin

    Solid post Steve. I like your thought process. Maybe as an advocate of hybrid marketing (traditional marketing combined with the collaborative tools of Web 2.0) with years of experience, all along I have understood the importance of hitting all the different touch points. It all starts with a plan. Show me a company with marketing that is siloed, I will be there was no plan. I will also wager there are other silos in the company because the company lacks leadership vision.

    One more thought. The digital revolution is getting bigger than connecting with the customers. The digital revolution is about social enterprises and lifestyles.

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