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Successful Social Media is More Than A Campaign

October 23rd, 2010 · 2 Comments · All Posts, AmberNaslund

Mild rant forthcoming.

I see so many case studies for social media being presented – in their entirety – as:

  • social discounts and coupons
  • a video campaign
  • a clever Facebook contest

But this drives me crazy insane. Here’s why.


Social media is not just direct marketing parked online.

Ultimate social media success by my definition is far more than whether you took advantage of the latest application craze to market the same stuff you always have.

Part of the trouble is that we rarely distinguish between Social Media, The Tools and Tubes and Social Media, The Business Philosophy. And they’re different.

Social Media as a Tool Set

Twitter. Facebook. YouTube. They’re all technologies and tools. The means, if you will.

Adding a social sharing component to your campaigns and content is a good thing. In technical terms, it means you’re “adding something social” to your communications to give them longer legs, more interactivity even. Adapting some of your existing brand focused efforts for increased social media awareness, sales, or customer loyalty is fine. It’s part of the deal, and it’s certainly something into which you need to evolve.

But it’s only part of it.

Social Media as a Business Philosophy

This is where it gets sticky, and where the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when we applaud a company for being awesome at social media when they pull off something cool, innovative, or a contest specific to a social network.

If the proper intent doesn’t live behind the campaign effort and there aren’t more pieces being put in place to make the entire approach to business more socially-minded, it’s just a clever campaign.

Businesses that are supporting their outward facing social media efforts with a true underlying philosophy are the ones that will win in the long run. That means your campaigns need to be representative of broader goals to:

  • Listen to the newly amplified and disseminated voices of your customers online, and the feedback they’re sharing
  • Respond to that feedback, and take it into consideration when you make decisions related to how you operate
  • Provide helpful, useful information to your customers that supports their entire relationship with you, not just their moment of purchase
  • Empower every person in your business to be and do all of those things themselves, within agreed upon guidelines, but with the freedom to respond with speed and personality
  • Adapt your people and processes to provide more open, fluid networks of communication. That means inside your business, between your business and community (past, present, and future customers), and among and within the community itself.

Campaigns can be fun. Entertainment is a viable goal in itself. So might a click through be to a discount coupon to drive more foot traffic to your store. But these are merely single parts of this revolution, and superficial ones at that. We’ve got to buttress the surface work with deeper re-engineering of how and why we do what we do.

Otherwise, It’s All Window Dressing.

If we continue to celebrate video campaigns alone as the pinnacle of social media success, we’re missing our own boat.

Yes, it’s something to get noticed and talked about. Yes, it’s important to earn more and broader footprints for your brand online. But it can’t stop there, or you’ve negated the rest of the cycle and the subtleties that are what make social media so powerful in the first place. The video campaign ought to be an indicator of a broader system of listening, response, participation, improvement, and back again.

You can be the listener. The observer. The helper, The educator, The business that’s invested and responsive. You can be more than a turbo-charged marketing vehicle, and you should be. Social media marketing is only part of the equation. As Jay Baer would say, it’s not enough just to do social, you have to learn how to be social.

The companies that will stand out as examples worth emulating will show evidence – or at least discussions of their exploration – of weaving all of those pieces together to form a more evolved, more symbiotic whole.

It may be new and we may just be getting our sea legs, but let’s not settle. There’s more to all of this than just a campaign. And if there isn’t, I’m in the wrong business and have made a grave, grave error of judgment because I’ve been believing in – and seeking to create – something much more evolutionary all along.

What say you?

Amber Naslund

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