Want to add Social Media to your marketing mix? Leave it to the experts.

By Affinitive

marketing-sherpa-chart1This week Marketing Sherpa asks the question “How Knowledgeable are Marketers [about Social Media] who have no Social Media experience?”

Quite an interesting question indeed. With Social Media being a super hyped little pair of buzz words, every agency, self-promoting fameball, or major brand who follows trendy little buzz words has jumped on the tweeting, wall-posting, super-poking bandwagon.

While they are most definitely right to be on the wagon, the deployment of a Social Media initiative is not something one embarks upon without any planning or experience. It is one thing to be a celebrity building your own online brand, but even then you have to be wary. The room for interpretation on the context of your tweets, blog posts, or status updates is a pretty big room and the elephant in it is that whether you are a brand or Demi Moore, the online world of snark just wants to see you stumble.  Just like that photograph of you on Page Six in your unflattering sweats or that consumer complaint about an experience with your brand or one of your employees that now has 50,000 views on Consumerist, dipping your toes into Social Media has to be done clearly and with purpose.

Even without the fear or risk of negative backlash, in order to make a lasting impression that positively supports your brand and that has a trajectory for growth and “viral” legs, one must have a firm foundation based on knowledge and experience, on what works and what doesn’t.

Which is why, as with every other marketing tactic or medium, having a strategy is important.  Your Social Media initiatives should be integrated with your overall brand strategy, whether you are trying to peddle a product, fameball, celebrity, or brand.  There should be goals, objectives, benchmarks, and a thought out approach that makes sense for what it is that you want to communicate and how you wish to communicate it.

In this Marketing Sherpa study, they concluded that ” Two-thirds of marketers who work for organizations that have not used any form of social media marketing or PR consider themselves “very knowledgeable” or “somewhat knowledgeable” about this emerging strategy. Their overconfidence in unproven ability can doom social media initiatives to failure.”

It is a mistake to believe that if you build it, they will come.

To believe that you can set up a YouTube channel, upload a few videos, and boom, there you have viral video is about as logical as believing that people with a video camera can create a Super Bowl commercial. Although in some cases, the former does happen, more often than not  it doesn’t and won’t.

In the same manner, it is foolish to believe that just because you create a Facebook or iPhone application and put it out in the universe, people will use it. The application directory on Facebook is flooded with applications, most of which (the most recent stat I heard was 99%) are basically inactive. Even the top Facebook applications that were previously deemed “successful” have seen a decrease in usage that averages between 15-24% with the new Facebook redesign.

While I do believe that it is possible for some brands to embark upon a Social Media plan “in house”, it is increasingly important to do so with someone taking the reigns who has Social Media experience and expertise. If you want to cut through the clutter, ward off any potential viral embarrassment, and most importantly, have a successful initiative having someone on board who knows the space – not as a user, but as a marketer, is key.

As an employee of an agency that dipped its own toes into Social Media before it was so totally trendy and part of a majority of Fortune 1000 marketing budgets, I can say that the overzealous nature of marketers to believe they fully understand Social Media is partially exciting. It is nice to have these mediums & tactics that we believe (and have for quite some time) to be viable be recognized and appreciated by the more traditional marketers.

I just urge you to remember that just like other traditional and existing non-traditional tactics, strategy is key. While a rogue effort by someone with no experience could prove to be successful, lightning rarely strikes in the same place twice.

It is best to consult with, hire, or bring to the team, someone(s) with a true passion for and expertise and experience in Social Media.

These two buzz words are best buzzed about by someone who knows how to properly buzz them.

  • http://www.tippingpointlabs.com/ Brett

    I would suggest that not only do the marketers not get it. The so called “experts” don’t either – and a little knowledge is as dangerous as its ever been.

    Just ask them to define “Social Media” and compare the answer to Wikipedia’s definition. You’ll both be in for a shock.

    Social Media Experts Don’t Get Social Media
    http://blog.tippingpointlabs.com/2009/07/social-media-experts-dont-understand-social-media/