Experiences: March 2009 Archives
Undoubtedly, authenticity has become a much overused, over exposed word in marketing. We're all talking about authenticity too much. Is your company authentic? Do you have an authentic brand? Is the conversation that you're having with your customers authentic? Are you being authentic in how you approach social media? The list goes on. Its exhausting.
- Users don't expect a Facebook fan page when they visit Skittles.com. It is disorienting. Nor do they expect to be redirected to a twitter search results page or a Wikipedia page.
- Pointing to an unfiltered search results of a twitter keyword is dangerous and if you scan the page you'll see what I mean. Some of the things being said are ugly and alienating. I've had to blur out some of the tweets in my screenshot of the page because they're that bad.
- The Twitter audience is not their customer. Focusing on Twitter can be a distraction. This may not apply to the other social platforms but then they should focus on those more directly and leverage them in a way that's in sync with their ethos. Are their customers' influencers on Twitter? I'm not even sure about that.
- I want to feel enticed when I visit the Skittles. Seeing a Wikipedia page does not create a craving for me. And I can't imagine it does much for the teens who are Skittle's core customers.
- By pointing to a search results stream, Skittles is not encouraging a conversation. Rather they're just telling us that random people mention Skittle in twitter conversations. Twitter's format doesn't allow you to follow an existing conversation easily making the stream appear gimmicky.
- Skittles is fueling voyeurism versus participation. It is a cop out to point me to the conversations. I'd rather the brand and its representatives engage with me and my friends directly maybe through a promotion or something.
- All buzz is not good buzz even for a brand like Skittles. Sure, this is creating a lot of buzz but some of it is negative and with the profanity the brand is being damaged too. Skittles needs to be careful.
I must admit I'm a little exhausted by all the talk of social media gurus. One day they're heroes another they're the scum of the earth. They're either going to save your brand from eternal irrelevance or they're Twitter freaks in search of attention. Both characterizations are wrong.
I've always felt that social media is a monumental consumer phenomena (after all guess where the talk about social media gurus is happening - on the social media sites!) but its impact on organizations is still being understood. I've come to believe that social media is even more important to companies than I earlier thought. But hiring a social media guru is not always the answer.
Enter Social Influence Marketing. At Razorfish, we define social influence marketing as employing social media and social influencers to achieve the marketing and business objectives of an organization. The definition is important because it places equal emphasis on the social influencers as it does on social media itself. It is fundamentally about recognizing that peers are influencing one another about brands and products more than any traditional form of marketing. Why does this matter? Because to harness social influence marketing you don't necessarily need social media gurus, you need to embrace the philosophies of social influence marketing throughout your company. You need to think about how you're marketing to your customer's social influencers as well.
Social Influence Marketing works when all your digital touch points are studied through the lens of social influence. Whether its your e-commerce website, your customer support efforts, your media buying, the public relations components, product innovation, the partner extranets - all of it must be looked at through the lens of social influence. The social media gurus that don't do this are the ones that probably provide less value. A holistic digital perspective accounting for how social influence works in the context of a business and an industry is what matters.
I don't think the backlash against the social media gurus is a bad thing. It'll force higher standards and will result in the more strategic thinkers getting the attention that they deserve. However, I believe in the long run social influence marketing is what matters much more than social media gurus per se. Whether a company hires gurus or chooses to push all its employees into the realm of social influence marketing (just as was done with digital a decade earlier), will probably determine how much it will gain from this consumer phenomena.
Here at Razorfish, our goal is to make it a part of every employee's job and those philosophies come to bear when we talk to clients. Social cannot be pigeonholed just as you cannot pigeon hole digital anymore. As you mull over this, take a look at Phil Johnson's "Will Twitter disrupt or enhance your business" piece in Ad Age. It touches upon some similar themes.