An Expert Assessment of Social Media Marketing


social-media-waste-of-timeWe talk a lot about social media marketing. A lot. In the past few weeks alone we’ve published posts on using Twitter to help build a brand, advantages and disadvantages of being a YouTube partner, and statistics on how much MORE money we’ll spend on social network marketing this year.

What can we say  – we’ve got a soft spot for social media and its marketing potential.

Of course, we think we’re justified in our love of applying new technologies to tried-and-true techniques. After all, we have implemented some of these components in our own campaigns, and they seem, for the most part, to garner a positive response.

As always – and we preach this more than we prosthelytize social media as the second coming – serious consideration should be given to the benefits and pitfalls of social media before abandoning everything else you know. Even then, while you weigh your options, your question shouldn’t be ‘Should I engage in social media marketing?’ but rather ‘HOW should I engage in social media marketing?’

But you don’t have to take our word for it.

Maybe you’re the kind of person who needs to hear these things from IBM Vice President Sandy Carter, who did an interview on the subject with MarketingProfs.com.

During the chat, Sandy offers her professional perspective on the importance of social media for business, as well as some of the topics she’ll cover during a session at the B2B Forum in Boston on June 8 & 9 – a conference we highly recommend you attend if these sort of topics are your cup of tea.

MarketingProfs.com: At the MarketingProfs B2B Forum, you’ll be leading a session entitled Marketing 2.0: Integrating Social Media Into Your Marketing Mix. How important is it for a company to consider integrating social media into their existing marketing plan, or should they try to make social media separate from the company’s other communication efforts?

Sandy Carter: I believe firmly that social media represents a new set of marketing tools. By integrating the Web 2.0 technologies into a marketing plan, you strengthen the plan overall to drive business. If you isolate your social media team, you will not see the results that you need. In fact, I think just as strong compelling value propositions are core to all marketing, social techniques and the use of Web 2.0 technology should be core to all integrated marketing going forward. (You can learn more about a formal methodology I recommend by visiting the site for my recent book, “The New Language of Marketing 2.0”) For example, if you run in-person events today to drive your business, you can add in a Twitter drive to the event to increase registrations. You can generate customer loyalty—or fans—by having them tell their stories on blogs, or post pictures on Flickr. You can even use web 2.0 to help follow-up on the leads with enurturing or form an online community to supplement your in-person customer boards. The point is that the magic is in the marketing mix. Not the tools!

MP: You obviously work at a very large company. What special considerations do you think a large company faces in trying to use social media, that a small business for example, might not have to worry about?

SC: Well, I think everything is a trade-off. There are some advantages that the small companies have and some that the big companies have. Since I work for a large company, I am envious at times at how fast a small company can experiment. This area is changing so rapidly and so many new tools are being added daily, that I think that being able to change on a dime is crucial or to add in a new tool without having to get tons of signoffs could make the difference in a first-mover advantage. But large companies have more resources. And that comes with an advantage as well.

However, the bottom line is I think the primary difference here is not in big or small. But the difference is in how close you are to your customers. The hair stylist I go to just recently used Facebook to increase the purchase of one of his services by 500%. Why? Because he used social media tools with his traditional customer retention methods. He understands what his customers are looking for and could add value. This is similar as to when IBM really listens to its customers and develops its next product by learning not only from its current customers, and focus groups, but by dialoguing in the blogs on product requirements and betas. The bottom line is do you know your goals and your differentiation well enough to use the tools appropriately?

MP: As you know, many companies are interested in learning more about social media. What do you think are some of the common misconceptions these companies have about social media?

SC: Great question! I think there are a few! First, some companies believe that social media is a magic elixir. They don’t realize that social media is just another set of tools to add to the marketing toolbox. Second, some companies focus on the coolness of social media. They get enamored with the tools themselves, and don’t focus on what they are trying to do—drive business! And finally I think that companies don’t realize that this is brand new. It is not what they studied in college and is bigger than marketing. It encompasses the business. Social technologies should be part of your market intelligence, your strategic delivery, your development cycle, your customer support, your marketing and your sales. It is a cultural change in how we create business.

MP: One of the biggest concerns about using social media, is finding a way to get measurable results. For the company that’s wanting to find the ROI of their social media efforts, what should they be looking to track to tell if their social media initiatives are effective?

SC: We are all already in the practice of tracking the effectiveness of all the elements of our marketing mix. So it is a great thing to measure the value of social media. I love what Dell did with its Twitter channel by using a special discount code to enable it to track the value. At IBM we add in Web 2.0 elements and measure the effectiveness—whether driving new opportunities or progressing current opportunity—over time. That said, think about the value of a relationship—it is hard to measure that personal relationship just as it is in measuring the online one ! Now even as I write this, IBM and MIT did try to estimate the value of the online connection. IBM Research and MIT’s Sloan School of Management found that the average e-mail contact was worth $948 in revenue. To unearth that and other data, they used math formulas to analyze the email traffic, address book and buddy lists of 2600 IBM consultants over a year!

However, you can’t measure everything and just because you can measure something doesn’t mean that it is the right thing to be watching!

MP: Is social media right for every business?

SC: I think that this question is the wrong one. The right one is—what is your overall goal for your company and its business model? What is your compelling value proposition that truly sets you apart? Then you can decide which soial media tools to add to your overall company strategy and execution.

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1 Response to “An Expert Assessment of Social Media Marketing”


  1. 1 Copywriting Techniques July 7, 2010 at 1:46 am

    Well I guess I know what copywriting techniques is all about now. Thanks.


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