As old as the word “social media” sounds to some of us now, treatment of this communication channel as an afterthought that inevitably results in its underutilisation is still prevalent in a fair number of companies.
Here are my 2 take-outs why this practice continues, based on my interaction with business leaders from various companies:
- There are still key decision makers of some companies who do not embrace social networking, as these platforms cannot shake off the stigma of being perceived as nothing but digital gossip columns. Inherently, these business executives do not appreciate the value of social networks as a brand communication channel. Marketing and communication objectives, associated strategies and media budget allocations in this new dawn clearly indicates that companies run by this category of decision makers have a long way to go.
- For other companies where social network marketing is incorporated in the broader communications mix, the unique value of these new media as effective listening tools for gathering consumer insights is not fully leveraged. These companies are battling with this channel as it challenges the culture of brand marketing and communication as we have come to know it, which is about top-down, censored generation and dissemination of brand information.
The quotation below, from an unknown source, highlights the need for brands to get on top of social networking if they want to guarantee their place in the future consumer space:
In the past, successful brands were those that shouted the most. In the future, successful brands will be those that listen the most.
I recommend that companies looking to realize true value of social media use the 3 strategic pillars of development below.
The key starting point for every social media strategy should be LISTENING. One big challenge with social networking is lots of noise. Listening helps “separate wheat from chaff” in answering the following key questions: who is talking about our category/ brand/competitors, what is their online influence, what are they saying, why, to whom, how, when, where, how often, etc. This will greatly aid the brand in its ENGAGEMENT activities, at the core of which is sharing of relevant content with friends, fans and followers. Lastly, no social media strategy is complete without MEASUREMENT. This is another great feature of social networking, and it must be optimized for full benefit.
My favorite line is worth repeating – social media strategy MUST be fully integrated in the total communication and media strategy for effective delivery of brand objectives.
Click here for my short video on social media strategy development.
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