Social media is not enough in a downturn


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social_madness.gifNow before you start slamming me for selling out, let me explain what I mean (and yes, I was inspired by this cartoon). As I've been discussing on this blog and in a series of papers over the last two years, social influence marketing is going mainstream. It is becoming fundamentally intertwined with the core of all things digital. As such it is getting more difficult to separate social media and social influence marketing from other digital activities. 

That's a good thing for two important reasons. Firstly, social is increasingly becoming core to the web as it should be. And secondly, no digital strategy is complete without a social component. It would be akin evaluating whether you need to layoff employees in a factory plant without looking for operating efficiencies at the same time. 

In the last two years, I've done more social strategy engagements in more industries than I ever thought I would. From the auto industry to insurance, technology and consumer packaged goods, large brands are wondering how to tackle social influence marketing. Along with some really smart folks at Razorfish, I've been helping them. What has it taught me?

That its not enough to focus on social alone. That nurturing the conversations in the social realm are the starting point not the end game. That it is indeed about getting customers to influence each other to make positive purchasing and brand affinity decisions. That the core philosophies around social can and should be deeply integrated into a business. And that, the more holistically you look at social influence marketing - across all touch points digital and physical, the more likely are you to harness it for competitive advantage. It is the social ideas that matter more than social media. Ideas that harness social philosophies but create new outcomes and not just new tactics.

There's still a lot to learn and at our recent client summit we saw not just some great case studies but also the potential of things to come. But one thing is for certain, social can only be a competitive advantage when its thought of in its most expansive sense touching every part of a business and every touchpoint.

Follow me on Twitter (@shivsingh) for more insights on digital strategy and social media.

2 Comments

Bill Odell Author Profile Page said:

Great post Shiv. We could not agree more with you about the need to embed social into the business. At Helpstream our entire approach is to tightly integrate communities with customer service processes. We just published a study on the ROI of this approach which you can find on our site if interested. http://www.helpstream.com/press/2009-04-28.html

maxOz Author Profile Page said:

Great article, love your site, looking forward to more posts,

cheers
michele (maxOz)

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