September 26, 2013 Michael Bickerton
If content is KING, then where does Data fit into the mix? You might ask, “Why data matters?”
I was fortunate to catch the Social Media Week Toronto 2013 presentation “Why Data Matters” as monitored by Kurt Heinemann of Marketwired. This panel discussion included a number of professional digital experts from Telus, Entrinsic, Purina Nestle and Marketwired. The insights were somewhat cursory, yet what was clear, 100% crystal clear, is that many marketers are still somewhat in their infancy in terms of developing and dealing with social strategies.
As noted, the discussion was a touch cursory for digital veterans. Yet, it was enlightening to see how some of the larger marketers are struggling to find their way in this ever changing space. It seems somewhat comical to me that many traditional marketers are still under the impressions that they can control the conversation. It appears since the consumer is now directing the conversation, this has delayed the foray into social media for obvious reasons.
As such, don’t worry if you haven’t ventured too far into social, there’s still time to get your social on. But, as the old saying goes, there’s no time like the present. The panel talked about education and understanding yet I couldn’t help but feel the underlying tone of control, or trying to control. Notably when the discussion went further into advocates this became apparent.
Advocates, brand ambassadors, and influencers are a critical segment to every brand. The excitement generated by real influencers, people who love the product and or love the brand are hard to find and identify. The result is that many marketers are using or working towards influencer strategies. Yet, I think that they may have missed the point and will find that trying to control or buy the influencer is not scalable. Influencing the Influencers is a slippery slope.
Worse from my view is the fact that at some point, engaging these influencers may well lead to the commercialization or the attempt at commercialization of a social engagement, as such the result may well be the reverse, a NON GENUINE engagement, or equivalent of a social commercial. This just won’t’ work. As pointed out in the panel, brand ambassadors have to be treated carefully and developed with a mind to ensure that it stays real. When handled correctly, brand ambassadors can act as “booster rockets” at a time when you need a lift and organic just can’t’ get you there.
If your team is starting with words like careful, control, balance and guidelines you are starting in the wrong spot. I encourage the use of words, open, honest and transparent, and that means that no matter the size of your brand or budget, sometimes you are not going to like what is being said. Telus seemed to have this area covered and were working towards a humanized approach to social as well as customer support.
Things like an open Facebook wall, and peer to peer help (as many are “geeked up” and like to help others) are very positive steps in the new communications norm. Telus ran a campaign called KEEP IT IN YOUR PANTS, a big step for any large corporation. This is a good example of engaging your audience in their space and in their way.
Social is about engagement, you can follow the numbers, you can follow the metrics, and it was pointed out, we have moved beyond the LIKE area of analytics. It’s important to keep in mind that we are dealing in one to many environments. Let me repeat that social is ONE to MANY.
Social Listening is the recommended first step, it allows you to find your audience and once you develop that audience you need to continue in that development. Listening allows you to build awareness, learn and test initiatives. So, be careful not to abandon your community, twitter is especially personal as we see again and again.
The main take away from my view, is that the conversation is happening on various social platforms, and it’s happening with or without your interaction. It’s dangerous as a marketer to not be engaging your audience in their space. They are talking about your brand, your company and areas of interest to your brand.
All in all a great discussion panel, lots of personal experiences shared. When we talk about data and we talk about metrics, yet, let’s be clear, you can have all the data, all the metrics, all the engagement processes and people, but you have to be human. Social is a human interaction and sometimes the numbers don’t all add up.
It’s this writers opinion that once we are dealing with people you can throw all those metrics out the window. In social we are one on one or one to many, there are many listening and watching interactions. Meaning, it’s still a bit of a guessing game and that means traditional markers will continue to struggle with concept of a conversation.
Data or NO Data, the reality is that the consumer controls the conversation; no guess work here.
Michael Bickerton, Raven5 Ltd, Oakville and Toronto, ON September 2013