Last week, Michelle Prak asked on her blog where social media sits in an organisation. As social media becomes a mainstream activity, the question must be who within an organisation is ultimately responsible for it?
“Social media and PR work well together”
Michelle argues that since social media is about conversations, PR professionals are best suited to take advantage of it. Marketers, she says, are not as interested in what audiences are saying about their brands.
The problem I have with this, is the general misunderstanding about what exactly marketing is. I am a marketer, and in my mind, the essence of marketing is matching consumers with the right products and services that fulfils a need or want in their life. This encompasses everything from supply chain management and customer service to sales and communication.
By my definition, PR, advertising, digital, etc. are all fall under the umbrella discipline of marketing. This is not to say that I’m a PR expert, which I’m not. I’m a marketer with specialised expertise in marketing communications and digital media. Conversely, all PR people are also marketers and to extend that a little bit further, so too is everyone else in an organisation. Understanding what marketing is and what the implications are for business can only make you better at what you do. For instance, customer service are right at the coal face and have more interaction with customers than anyone else. They have as much responsibility for marketing an organisation and embodying what it stands for as someone with ‘marketing’ or ‘communications’ in their job title. By being aware of why it is important to stay on-brand and what that means, they are more able to do their job than someone with no clue about why they have to say or do the things their job demands.
Where was I? Oh, right.
To try and limit social media to just the realm of PR, advertising or any other niche discipline, is to restrict the potential social media has to fundamentally transform a business. Social media must have a multi-disciplinary, marketing-led approach that first and foremost takes into account business objectives before tactics and execution. Only by taking a step back to ask ‘why?’ will an organisation truly know how best it applies to their business.
“Social media fits within a business’s communications strategy”
The first instinct most marcomms people have when presented with something like social media is, how can I use this to broadcast my message? This is exactly the wrong approach to be taking. While the disintermediation of media has enormous advantages, it has almost meant that brands now think they can start broadcasting their message directly to their target market instead of going through a media channel. Just because a conversation is happening out there about your brand doesn’t give you the right to engage with them uninvited.
Thinking about social media purely as a communications tool ignores what I see as two of it’s biggest benefits. Instead of rushing into engage, organisations need to first listen and learn what their customer’s are saying and how they want to be engaged. Going beyond Google alerts and other searches, social media monitoring tools such as Radian 6 and Dialogix gives brands unprecedented ability to monitor and analyse what’s being said about them online.
This insight and access into the mind’s of their consumers allows brands to really build intimate relationships with their customers by tailoring and personalising their approach. Building massive followings and blindly bombarding them with offers and promotions is no different to the traditional advertising that audiences are already switching off to.
As the always insightful Jay Baer writes, a better use for social media might be to strengthen the relationships you already have, rather than create new ones with people you don’t know.
“Why would a consumer “friend” us or “fan” us or “follow” us in social media, unless they were either already a customer, or at the very least had us in their purchase consideration funnel? The average Facebook member becomes a fan of just two companies per month, yet is exposed to thousands of brands during that same period. People don’t experimentally engage with brands in social media, they engage with the brands they already support.”
While the industry is still incredibly nascent, it appears that the best use of social media is when it is approached holistically and not just focused on the conversation but also on the insights into what an organisation’s customers think and say.
Read Michelle’s original post.