ALL Marketers need to wake up and get Social!

Research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (May 20, 2009) shows that 79% of Chief Marketing officers and Chief Financial Officers collectively believe that marketers do not show how customer needs can be taken into account strategy.

Hang on!…. you mean that marketers don’t understand their customers despite (finger in the air research) 98% of marketers claiming that their audience/customer is put first?  Wow.  I’ve never heard of another Industry that collectively say (behind the scenes) they are this bad at what they claim to be most necessary for success.  Understand and meet the needs of your audience.  I think this is a poor situation for an industry to be in and shows we must step up to the mark.

What is the impact of social marketing?

The social marketing world will sort this mess out though for sure.  In social marketing the customer MUST be everything or the campaign will fail spectacularly.  You cannot turn up and start commenting in forums or online groups that are inappropriate for your brand and if they are not relevant.  The only way to know whether they are or not is if you truly understand your audience.  We have found that often groups that do not seem on the surface interested in a specific past-time are in fact.  Buzz monitoring or social media monitoring is a good way to identify where the conversations of relevance are occurring at at what frequency.  For example being able to pick out a technology community that is generating a lot of relevant music debate.

Failing to appreciate who your target audience are and where they hang out will lead to rejection of the message or worse- backlash. The customer in the social space doesn’t hold back and will take marketers who fail to understand them or add any value apart.

The key to truly successful social marketing is by truly understanding where someone else is coming from (their environment, likes, views, behaviours etc).

I wonder how many people on this planet are very good at this from a completely objective perspective.  Relatively few I would imagine.  From my perspective I like to think that I am able to “put myself in somebody elses shoes” to figure out how I can identify with them, but how deep can this go really and how much hinges on stereotype?

This issue gives rise to my prediction that the company culture in marketing agencies will dramatically change as social marketing billing increases.  A need will develop for agencies to employ a broad range of people, with various interests, representing a large cross section of life (not just ‘token’ people), with a range of interests on the marketing team.  This will be necessary in social marketing efforts to effectively connecting with consumers on their level.  Perhaps there is a 30 year old pop music fan on the team, who also likes cooking at home and a 19 year old skater, who is massively fashion conscious.

These social marketing executives will be matched with similar interests and attitudes to the target audience, for them to be able to identify with the very people they are communicating with naturally.  Being natural in social marketing and ‘fitting in’ to the groups online facilitates the development of trust and a respectful dialogue between members.  It is the small non-verbal clues that demonstrate how similar people are and confirms their place in the group, or shows them up as an imposter.  If you do not have a real interest in music then you will not have that tribe’s language and cultural ‘norms’ and this becomes apparrent very quickly.

Getting this right is key as not only will it lead to marketers being accepted in the groups they wish to market in, but it will also be more time effective.  This is because the marketer will be able to behave in the way they are used to, so the responses will be naturally faster and a relationship could be developed quicker as a result.

It is important to note that this still must be done in a transparent manner- by being truthful about their employment as a marketer and the company’s intentions.  Being dishonest will lead to more serious implications down the line and is also illegal.

To conclude:

1)  It is important to have people working on social marketing campaigns who have a natural interest in the topic area to be able to speak knowledegably and fit into the group.

2)  People with specialist interests can ensure that the marketers understand the client’s target audience, identify their needs and add value to create a successful brand-consumer dialogue

3)  Agencies working in social marketing will increasingly need a range of talent with various interests to serve a range of clients or specialise in defined verticals.

Related Articles:

– Metrics for Social Applications (and Social Media)

– Social Marketing Fails for Small Businesses

– The Gap Steps Up to Social Media- Without Targets

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