An Open Letter to the C-Suite: Social Marketing

An open letter to the C-Suite about social media

Guest post by Dave Taddeo

Struggling to convince your CEO to use social media? Tired of hearing the same negative response?
Below is an open letter to the C-Suite which convinces CEO’s of the folly of ignoring the biggest “elephant in the room” ever conceived, social media. Also reference the companion article Why 1700 CEOs are Wrong about Social Media.

What is Social?
Social is this thing that people use to communicate and share. It started with Friendster ten years ago and eventually many other sites started popping up. People share all kinds of things including what they are doing at any moment, photos of friends, family and events, and videos. Keeping in touch with (and track of) more friends than would normally be possible, is now possible. Sharing status updates and other kinds of media with more than a few (or hundreds or thousands) of people at the same time with the ability for all those people to comment and give their input became ‘valuable’. All the information about people and what they share and with whom became a goldmine for marketers. Especially when they share their opinions, photos and videos about your product or service. Instantly. Twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week.

Social Marketing
Social marketing is when your marketers put your ads and information on social websites.

Wait. Let’s go back for a minute. Remember when the marketing team at your company sent out flyers house to house and had newspaper and magazine print ads and delivered and sold to poll-generated demographic communities? Those publications told you that a certain number of people not only saw your ad, but read it and you were charged based on the number of people who saw/read your ad. Newspapers and magazines based their numbers on circulation. The higher the circulation, the more they can charge you.

How many times did someone in the C-suite at your company ask the publication how certain their circulation numbers were correct?

This is a well-developed advertising model spanning several decades. Sixty or seventy years worth of printing and distributing. What’s to question? Maybe, ‘How many distributed copies of your publication were looked at before they were dropped in the recycling bin? Are you charging me too much? Show me the numbers.’

Back to the present
Today you can budget your marketing and ad dollars and know they are targeted to people who consciously stated they are interested in your product or service. You can pay to have an ad shown to a person who is actually interested. You can also decide to only pay if someone consciously clicks on your ad and brings them to your site. You know your marketing and ad dollars are being spent on customers of great potential.

As newspapers and magazines phase out of existence, your marketing and ad dollars should shift substantially to where your real potential customers are.

Now that you’re doing that, you need to serve those real potential customers where they are and how they have become accustomed to being served.

Take the marketing out of ‘social marketing’ and get social
To repeat from above: “Especially when they share their opinions, photos and videos about your product and/or services. Instantly. Twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week.” This is fundamental. Make no mistake about it. You need to be there to be a part of social lest it takes on a form of it’s own. This is not easy. It may even be a bit scary.

You need to engage a community that has risen around your brand in a professional, yet complementary manner in which the community behaves.

This is completely different than printing an ad, hoping someone sees it, is compelled to purchase, then if they need help they call a phone number, follow the automated instructions and wait for someone to speak to them about any issue they may have.

Take a few minutes and come to the realization that the ad and phone call model is cumbersome and upsets your customers when all they want is social media.

Getting Social
How do you get social? The way social is done is upside-down to the old ad and phone center model you’re used to. Contact the experts. Find a company or contractor to set you up and inform you of what to do and how to move forward. They know what social is. They’ve been doing it for a long time, not only as a service they provide to companies (including your competitors) but also in their spare time for themselves (as themselves) with their friends and families and followers.

This costs money. Real money. But you cannot afford to not be social. Your customers and potential customers now require it. Getting social is the future for your company. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.

Think about it. If a potential customer has a question about your product or service, or has a problem with your product or service that can be rectified with a question posed to a customer service rep from your company, which company do you think will win that customer’s loyalty or next purchase? The answer is simple. The company that can get the information to the customer with as little ‘friction’ as possible. More and more customers are spending more and more time at their keyboards. More device (electronic gadgets) and TV manufacturers are working hard so that you can put your ads and customer service where your customers eyes already are. Make it ‘frictionless’ for your customers to contact you. Put yourself right in that line of sight.

Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is three different things, so stop putting those three words together in one concatenated term.

Marketing you should already know. Leave it to the marketing department. Get marketers who know how to bring your product or service to the ever-evolving internet (including the social websites). Find a company or contractor who follows and knows the varying websites and trends. Once again, they are the experts. They know what’s going on online as it changes day-to-day.

Media is photos, videos and commentary about your company and it’s products or services. The ever-active 24/7 presence of the global internet means you have to provide as such.

Social is the new tricky thing you have to adapt to. You have to be there, but how do you get there? Do what you do best and leave social to those that know it and live it.

Successfully putting the above mentioned three things together is how you become successful. Placing videos or photos (media) promoting your company (marketing) where your customers are (social) is new and essential for your success. It’s the undeniable future.

Getting social and adding your marketing and media is a very large and complex endeavor. It develops and evolves every day to something different from what it was the day before. The players can change just as quickly. To be a part of social, which is essential, you have to make sure you have good people doing it for you.

ROI

When is the last time you asked your customer service team what ROI they bring to the company? It’s a stupid question. 

Serving your customers to satisfaction has no ROI. It’s just an I(nvestment) in your product or service. It’s I(nvestment) in satisfying your customers.

Investing in social is investing in your company. Getting social with your customers lets them know you’re there and ready to be social with them. Marketing and adding media while being social with your customers is the ultimate trifecta. Being social means talking to customers, listening to customers, solving problems for customers, marketing to customers, sharing media with customers and last but not least, having fun with customers. This costs money. Real money. The return on your investment in getting social is karma. You can’t count the profits based on being part of a community where your interactions define who your company is and what your company does.

Stop looking for a defined percentage increase in profits next quarter based on how much money you spent on good social services last quarter. 

Your return is karma and that takes many quarters. You have to earn that karma by being there for your customers where they are time and time again from here on out.

You want to know numbers just like you wanted to know the numbers from the newspapers and magazines. But you have to know this is different. The old ‘place an ad and get the made up circulation numbers from the printer’ model doesn’t apply anymore so don’t try to make it apply. Getting social encompasses much more than having a ‘certain’ number of people seeing and reading your ad or marketing campaign. Your customers can read and then re-post your copy. They can comment on it and share it with others, many others. The 24/7 viewing, re-posting and/or comments cannot be held to the same accounting standards as that ‘certain’ number of people who saw and read your print ad that they could not view, copy and share and/or comment on. This is new. It’s still in development in an ever-developing social space. How much do you value a re-post? A comment (positive or negative)? Having your media available to the world 24/7 regardless of when you provided it?

Stop doing the math for a minute and start gathering statistics. Gather statistics over a quarter, two quarters, a fiscal year, two fiscal years… then look back and see how things are going and start building a model. You need the data. You already have the data for print ads. Before asking for your ROI get some data so you know what you’re actually asking for.

Just do it right
You’re in the C-suite because you bring a certain skill and value to the company you work for. Unless you are a part of the C-suite for one of the websites where your customers are, then leave it to those that know how to get your company social in one of those sites. The social company or contractors you obtain social services from (be it social, media or marketing, or all three) provide their services because they bring a certain skill and value to their clients. Take some time, do your due-diligence and choose a social service provider that you believe will fulfill your company’s social needs.

You don’t have a choice. You have to get social. It’s the way the world is going whether you like it or not. 

Do your job and pay attention, but do it right. Leave it to the experts and rest assured knowing you don’t have a choice.

Dave Taddeo describes himself as a ‘social observer since the introduction of the Walkman.’ He lives in Ontario, Canada. You can follow Dave at UberScribbler.com

About Nate Goodman

Nate Goodman (@NathanAGoodman) is the author of the novel The Fourteenth Protocol and an email/CRM software designer with over 11 years in the email marketing, CRM, and social media space.