The Future of Social Marketing – It Might be Going in the Wrong Direction

wrong direction We are at that time of the year where everyone will start to make his or her predictions for the coming year. I am not here to be viewed as the great prognosticator but rather I do hope to get social marketing on the right track.

Digital/social is not hype. If you look at the vast universe of user behavior in digital/social you must believe brands need to leverage these environments for overall success. And when I look and see how a majority of brands act and deliver on social channels, I literally get infuriated.

This week a study revealed “Only 8% Of Brands Believe Their Marketing Team Is Strong Across All Digital Marketing Channels.” How can this be acceptable? If you are part of the remaining 92%, what are you doing about it?

This past week I had a conversation with a CEO of a big agency. A colleague set up this meeting as I am currently looking for a leadership position in digital marketing. The CEO proceeded to share with me that he had acquired a social marketing agency that he was going to fold into the agency. “Why do I need a separate CEO and CFO? I think the current agency roles, the creatives, the account people, can do social as part of what they do.”

In the world of mergers and acquisitions, you probably do not need an extra CEO or CFO and other executive, general management, and support functions. And yes, we should expect everyone to play a social role as part of his or her job function. But I asked the CEO a question, “Don’t you think you need someone to orchestrate the entire social presence for a brand?” He avoided answering this question.

And in there lies the erroneous direction of brands’ social marketing. I believe that everyone in a company needs to be a social extension for the company. Yes, the creative folks need to make sure their productions include social distribution and engagement; the account folks need to make sure information is captured from social listening; and on and on. But there needs to be a chief engagement officer, chief customer officer, chief social officer, chief digital officer, chief marketing officer … Call them what you want … Place the responsibility in an appropriate place … but someone needs to take charge. Someone that is really competent owning the brand personality. Someone owning the customer engagement. Someone measuring and analyzing empirical results.

I see growth in social marketing participation throughout the functional areas of companies. And that is a good thing. But if anyone thinks that greater use of social media across various groups within an organization means that there is social marketing integration, they are wrong.

If companies want to see true ROI from social efforts, there needs to be a leader that is responsible for orchestrating and delivering strategy, plans, operations and measurable results. In my six years of social marketing, and ten years in digital marketing I continually see chief marketing officers, chief strategy officers, chief digital officers, chief whatever officers that really don’t understand target audience behavior and use of digital/social. I see sharp but inexperienced digital marketers in roles that they are not prepared for.

This scenario has caused many to question the value of social marketing. Social marketing will not have value if its responsibility is not placed in the right hands. I have a sense of optimism given that studies are being conducted that unveil how significant the problem is.

If there is one trend that must change in 2014 in the world of digital/social marketing it is competent leadership and responsibility. Let’s put it in place. Then we can start assessing the true social value.

Wake up.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

5 Comments

Filed under behavior, brand marketing, company organization, leadership, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media organization, social media performance, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

5 responses to “The Future of Social Marketing – It Might be Going in the Wrong Direction

  1. Steve I think SM is like a new car – everyone trying to figure out how to drive it.

  2. Jim Matorin

    Driver Jim checking in. I feel your fustration Steve. What we need to make it happen throughout more organizations is a cultural change that begins with the head of the fish. The head of the fish is going to have to understand, embrace and make it part of their daily routine to utilze social media platforms to at least aggregate information and then learn how to properly engage. That takes time, training/experimentation. Something has to give in the equation. One solution is to cut back on meetings. Maybe if companies set a policy where their people cannot meet until noon which frees up their mornings to be productive, get work done and work their social media rounds we would begin to develop the culture of social enterprise.

  3. Ha! Most managers don’t fully understand the brand let alone convey it downward or outward or wherever. The latest article in Inc. with Gary V. helps people to understand the different platforms and how “different” they really are from each other.

  4. People who don’t understand social tend to think of a social network as a kind of personal trophy.

    I cringe whenever I hear someone say “I’ve got 500+ connections on LinkedIn!”. It reminds me of Sally Fields’ Oscar acceptance speech. (“You like me…right now you like me!”).

    We give some awesome tips on our blog relating to this topic.
    Check us out – http://blog.peoplelinx.com

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