Social Media Isn’t About Marketing and Other Things I Believe
I’ve reached some conclusions about marketing in the digital age, especially as it applies to social media, and I’d like to share those with you.
1. Social Media Isn’t About Marketing.
That may sound really disingenuous coming from someone who has made his living writing books and articles about social media marketing, as well as helping clients and workshop attendees learn to use it for that purpose. But I’ve come to believe something that, in all honesty, I’ve long believed, yet failed to voice – social media isn’t about marketing; it’s about communicating.
Effective communications involves more than talking. A big part of it is listening. People are talking and what they have to say is important. They will tell you what their concerns, interests and needs are. That information forms the topical structure around which your content should be built.
Real conversations with real human beings has always been social media’s hallmark. Brands that are willing to listen their customer’s concerns and respond with answers and relevant content are the one’s who will win the minds and hearts of customers and others.
Make the Entire Organization Social
The fact that social media isn’t about marketing means that marketing and PR shouldn’t own it. Everyone within an organization (the key players anyway) should be social. Sure, there should be a point person orchestrating social strategy, tactics and guidelines (Scott Monty at Ford Motor Company is a great example), but there should be many touch points, not just one. But you first have to get beyond the notion that social media is simply a marketing tactic before you’ll embrace that
2. Brands Should Be Purpose-Driven and People-Centered.
In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, pastor and author Rick Warren asks the question, “What on earth am I here for?” Brands should ask a similar question.
In chapter 12 of the The Social Commerce Handbook, which I co-authored along with Dr. Paul Marsden, I assert that brands should be purpose-driven and that they should “lead with purpose, not a pitch.”
And I quote…
[R]ather than coming out of the gate with a sales message, determine a genuine, authentic purpose that is consistent with your brand, that contributes to the greater good, and promotes the welfare of others. It’s a clearly stated, compelling unique value proposition that will set your brand apart from everyone else; and everything you do in terms of customer engagement stems from it.
In his book, The Art of the Start, well-known author and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki said that companies should “make meaning” by letting the motivator be something other than money. Instead, he suggests that we should seek to “make the world a better place.”
That’s not to suggest brands shouldn’t be in business to make money (of course they should), only that the bottom-line be about contributing to the greater good in a way that is commensurate with their products and services.
Not only should brands be purpose-driven, they must also be people-centered in their communication.
My response is that, for me, social media has always been and will always be about people, not technology. That’s harder to scale and certainly more difficult to measure, but that’s the way it has to be, at least in my estimation.
A song written in the 80s called Matters of the Heart says this: “You can show me your sales curve, plot my life on your flowchart; but there’s just some things that numbers can’t measure – matters of the heart.”
I believe there is a very “matter of the heart” aspect to social media
marketing communications. It’s that element – not measuring ROI – that keeps me in the game.
It may be a “virtual” medium, but it’s “visceral,” as well because it puts me face-to-face with people in a place where I get to know their names and learn about their lives. As a result, they matter to me, and I’d like to think I matter to them. The same can (and should) be said of brands.
There is a power to social media that cannot easily be measured. It is the power of personal connection. Social media matters because people matter. If it ever ceases to be that way, then I’ll find another way to make a living.
I believe that social media, at its heart, is not only people-centered, but servant-oriented. There is a real “do unto others” aspect to social media that should be prevalent in all our communications. That’s why customer service has become such a hot topic. (In fact, I suggest that customer service is the new marketing.) It’s a role that social media can play very well. (Paul Marsden refers to this mentality as “social utility.”)
And marketers, if that’s a hard pill for you to swallow, I’m sorry. Stick to sending emails or making TV commercials instead.
These are more than just opinions – they are convictions, and make up the “manifesto” that I hope to take into all future business dealings with clients or workshop participants:
- Social media is a form of communication that supersedes marketing and PR and extends to all departments and business units.
- Brands should be driven by purpose with a focus on serving people.
I know it sounds good in principle, but I believe it can work in practice. At least I hope so. What do you think?