Monday, November 16, 2009

Social Media versus Social Strategy

In a Harvard Business School Working Knowledge Newsletter, the studies of Professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski and users of social networks are discussed. The article opens with a quote from the Professor, "Online social networks are most useful when they address real failures in the operation of offline networks". Keeping up with friends, establishing new relationships, and sharing photos are primary uses of these social networks. No real surprises there.
Which can lead to the question that confounds many a corporate marketing leader. How do you play in this new world of social networks? According to Professor Piskorski, " To be successful, you need to shift your thinking from social media to social strategy". Simply looking at the social networks as another marketing channel, to generate leads and click through's for your website, is inconsistent with the spirit and use of these networks. He suggests that products and services need to be changed to incorporate social networking components, i.e. make them "more social".
Certainly an interesting perspective and worth exploring. In the financial services arena, I find it a bit challenging to see a way to make our services more social. We see the current value in sharing information about the company and employees on our Facebook page (with lots of pictures, of course). We use Twitter to have conversations with others that are more immediate, whether it be promoting an event, participating in community activities, or addressing a customer service issue. I think we are evolving into a social strategy through experience.
So what about you? How do you see social media, as just another sales channel or as an overall part of a social strategy?

1 comment:

  1. Great post Kevin. I think it's critical that social media is looked at as more than just a sales channel. As we know, it’s about creating connections. From my experience, if we evaluate social media as a sales channel most folks are going to then hold to some pretty tight Direct Response oriented metrics. In reality, I think it’s much more branding than direct response.

    We talk about this a good bit on our blog, and I think like anything else the key is making sure you have a plan in place and know what you want to do and what your expected outcomes will be. If the goal is to generate X amount of new customers per quarter and Y amount of dollars spent, then this might not be the best way to do that. But, if the idea is to improve the customer experience and the brand’s perception and accessibility, then it makes a whole lot more sense.