R2integrated gathered at the 415 Westlake event space in the heart of downtown Seattle to check out the March Social Media Event hosted by 47 Harmonic. The name of the event may be one that would deter social marketing lovers such as myself: “Marketers are killing social, now what?” I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the panel, but I am so happy that I went and checked it out.
The panel was full of awesome marketing folks:
It was my absolute pleasure to hear all of these folks speak and share their opinion on the social marketing landscape today and where it can go in the future. Eric started the conversation asking each panel member to share with us one thing that they’ve done in social for which they need to apologize. Each panelist chuckled remembering different campaigns or tactics that they have tried in the past that did not work as anticipated.
The conversation then moved to trying to determine how marketers are killing social, and the panelists agreed that marketers did what marketers do. We just got too excited about social and didn’t take the time to fully understand what it could do for a brand. As a social marketer, I know that the point of social is to reach and connect with your audience on a personal level. But, has social media ever really been about connecting with people?
The intent of social is to connect with people, but brands typically join social to boost their own KPIs, such as sales. Chris mentioned that since marketers are measured by acquisition, it’s hard for us to connect without trying to push our product. Yoli pointed out that for brands that have a community as a part of their DNA, social is natural. This would include brands such as Harley Davidson, Lulu Lemon, and Adobe. Additionally, with categories where there was a community prior to social, such as with Nike and running, social is natural extension. I couldn’t agree with her statement more. It’s hard for brands to encourage community and connection when followers can’t put personality, or truly connect, to a brand. Kevin suggests looking to the post-sales cycle as a place to create a connection, to make it a goal to have customers create a community around us and our product, rather than creating a community for them.
At this point, you’re probably wondering what can we do? I’m glad you asked! The panelists each shared some great ideas on how marketers can start to #SaveSocial. Yoli points out that social is about advocacy, and to drive advocacy, we must continue to create good products. If marketers have the ability to effect the product, do it. Keven mentions that we need more CMOs in charge of customer service. Thanks to social tactics, such as social listening, we have the data to effect customer service. Chris says that we need to stop waiting out the old guys, the ones who have been working in the marketing world with older tactics, for years - we must outsmart them. Metrics are motivating these traditional marketers and so we need to correlate and connect what we are doing in order to reach those metrics and start being accountable. Chris also added that the ROI of social is trust, which is very, very important. The more trust you have with your users, the more you will find results in sales, views, clicks, engagements. But beyond these metrics, with more trust, the brand will be able to connect with users on a more personal level creating a real connection. This is necessary in order for users to start relating to your brand instead of thinking of it as a company that just sells products. I know what you’re thinking, “but I want users to buy my products!” The truth is, that if a customer likes you and the feeling they get when they interact with your brand, they are more likely to buy your product and spread the word about the brand in the future. Social interactions drive user sentiment toward your brand. How do I know this is true? Because that’s how I view brands as an end user. With such an emphasis on metrics, it’s hard to take a step back and care more about the relationship than the KPIs. However, I think, that if marketers can take a step back, and look at the relationships and conversations that are forming on their social pages and understand how you communicate with users then that will be more beneficial than seeing how many clicks your links received this month.
Now, how do you scale trust when marketers are trying to optimize posts to get impressions, clicks and referral traffic? Well, now that’s an interesting question that will take an entirely separate blog post to discuss.
Here are a few of the most interesting quotes I heard at the event:
"There’s never a bad tactic, only bad implementation."
"Good marketers mind their manners in social, if you must crash the party, bring good wine!” Here, Yoli is referencing how some brands jump into conversations that they don’t necessarily belong in, however, if you have to join make sure you bring good content and insight with you."
"Contribute value in social. Don’t try to take value."
"The reality is, everyone is an influencer."
"Brands are more interested in buying influencers than cultivating influencers"
"Organizations should switch the budget from driving acquisition to driving advocacy."
Finally, the one thing that resonated the most with me from the conversation, was Chris Heuer saying that in order to change, we need courage. Social marketers need to have the courage to speak up when they have a new idea, or want to change something. You may get some resistance, but in the end it will be worth it. Be courageous, save social.
Speaking of saving social, if you want to learn more about what was discussed, you should definitely check out the #SaveSocial conversation on Twitter.