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Social Business vs Social Media Marketing
Why many organisations fail at Social Media

November 2011


Short speech at:
ENGAGE ‘11 Communication in the Digital age: Creating news, content and communication that drives engagement and changes opinions. Sydney, Nov. 2011

Short introduction to panel Q&A discussion: “Understanding how communication and engagement can motivate people” to explain the digital perspective of Social Business.

A lot has been said about Social Media, but many organisations (profit and non-profit) do still have incorrect ideas about it. The main misconception is that Social Media is something organisations do. However, it is actually something the consumer does!
It has nothing to do with Marketing but in fact is a revolution; a cultural revolution in the true sense of the word, in which the consumer has been empowered by the internet and social media. The consumer is no longer accepting mass-marketing and mass-production. It is no longer the big corporations who decide what we should buy and what the marketing messages are. The consumer decides what to buy based on online reviews made by their peers in Social Media and thus it is the consumer who writes the marketing messages from now on.

Actually the term Social Media is often used incorrectly. Social Media, as the word says is a media channel of communication like Facebook, Twitter and mobile apps. What most companies do is Social Media Marketing. As an example let's look at the Old Spice man:

Example: The Old Spice Man
Old Spice made a television commercial featuring Mustafa Isaiah, who asked his female audience "Ladies, does your man look like me? No! Could he smell like me? Yes! While baking a cake in the kitchen he built with his own hands. (If you have not seen it yet, I suggest you look it up on YouTube)

This television advertisement had reasonable but not very exciting results. Then the Old Spice team decided to place the ad on YouTube and had Mustafa create a new video for comments made by viewers, answering a specific comment in the new video and addressing that particular person directly. This was a great success as the personal answer videos went viral and as a result Old Spice doubled its sales.
The Old Spice team then dropped the whole campaign at the end of the season and developed a new campaign for the next season, to try and recapture the same success.

Social Media Marketing is obsolete
This is what I call Social Media Marketing; using Social Media as a new channel to do old fashioned marketing. However that is not what Social Media is about and it showed clearly in the sales figures. The Old Spice man campaign had resulted in a 100% sales increase and about 200,000 subscriptions by customers or fans who wanted to stay in touch with Old Spice. As soon as Old Spice stopped the campaign and dropped their fans, the sales dropped as well. They had created a great relationship and connection with 200,000 customers and in fact told them they were not interested in them?! These people went of course elsewhere and as a result the new campaign this year is not showing any mentionable success.

Social Business
What organisations need to understand is that Social Media is not just a new communication channel, but a totally new way we do business. To succeed in this new world, companies need to become Social Businesses: the whole organisation has to become social and when a business engages the consumer in Social Media it has to realize that this is forever. Social Business is not a date; it is a marriage for life!

As I said above, the consumer will be writing the brand marketing messages from now on and companies will have no control over this process other than by delivering an excellent customer service and experience. If done well, this will lead to positive reviews and word of mouth promotion. To create this excellent customer experience, organisations need to find out where their target group hangs out online, start listening to their preferences, interests and issues, and then engage with those customers to deal with those issues and talk about and deliver what they prefer or are interested in. Initially there can be no branding or advertising, but just pure delivery of services. Promotion will be done by the customer, if the customer deems the product, service or organisation worth talking about.

The organisation can then take this one step further by involving the customer in different aspects of business: using the customers feedback or let them collaborate directly, to improve the product, service and organisation to grow the business together, creating a product or service that best suits the customer and thus building a strong relationship that will increase retention and create advocates.
For example threadless.com sells T-shirts that are designed by customers, thus saving costs on a design department and pays customers if their designs are bought by other customers.

Organisations in the Social World need to forget all their traditional marketing lessons and go back to delivering a great service to their customers, not just with their marketing department, but with the whole organisation, thus turning into a true social business; a business that takes care of their customers, instead of bombarding them with advertisements they no longer want to hear. In the end (something organisations tend to forget), the customer is the main reason for each organisation's existence.

Social media





Some of my personal remarks and opinion on books related to social media marketing:

"Socialnomics" How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business, by Erik Qualman


"New rules of PR & Marketing" How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, by David Meerman Scott

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