Please don’t adopt a Social Marketing strategy.

April 28, 2009

I’ve taken the past few weeks to digest all the Social Marketing information that I normally follow. There’s a lot. There’s a lot of opinions, there’s a lot of following an idea because (please insert SM guru of the day) said it. However there’s also a lot of really well thought out, well stated and written theses on how to corral this exploding market and harness it.

Is the SM world flat or round?

A lot of who I read to gain insight on how this market is evolving, stems from my own feelings towards it. I gravitate towards a particular viewpoint that supports how I feel and how I have seen SM work the best. I tend to steer clear of, apart from the occasional glimpse, any conflicting opinions. I’m always open to giving a well rationalized argument it’s due but I tend to avoid the overt sales pitch.

I don’t see this as a problem. The SM world has yet to be defined as flat or round. For all I know it may be both, depending on your community and message. It may be that all viewpoints are valid in the context of their creators, communities and messages.

It may be many things, but it’s not a strategy.

Although I don’t see a polylogue on SM as a bad thing I know it annoys those who wish to include an SM strategy in their business. So, here’s my big idea for the day.

Don’t.

Don’t include it as a strategy, it’s not. SM is far too young to have defined paths of implementation beyond the fundamentals. It has not had time to evolve and coalesce into a 4 hour seminar. This is both fantastic and annoying. It’s fantastic because now is the time to experiment to explore and determine, to quote Mr Rumsfeld, what you know, what you don’t know and what you don’t know you don’t know. It’s annoying because, especially in this climate, getting the leeway for this experimentation is tricky.

It’s fundamental

I read an article last week  quoting the CMO of  Unilever on their decision not to implement an SM strategy. Good for him. A lot of comments were berating this statement as yet another big business not moving with the times. I don’t believe Unilever should implement SM as a strategy I think they should implement it as a new, fundamental avenue to interact with their customers.

Just as you learn any hobby you realize that there are fundamentals to success that if not adhered to will cause failure far before you actually step up to take the shot, climb the hill, swim the lake. SM, at this stage is the same.

The one current theme that flows through all the conversations on this topic is that of building and engaging community. Without community with whom are you going to socially network? Without a social network who are you going to socially market too?

Fundamental step one.

Know your community. Know your customers. Read what they write. Understand how and where they communicate. Without this any attempt at SM  is doomed before it begins. Thankfully knowing your customers better is an easier sell to those who pay the bills. Who wouldn’t want to know their customers better?

What do you think? Is it a strategy or is concentraing on the fundamentals a good first step to implement?

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One Response to “Please don’t adopt a Social Marketing strategy.”

  1. Peter Says:

    I myself am still experimenting with social marketing. I suspect that when the dust settles, the fundamentals will remain as such, that in many niches, success principles will require about as much art as science.


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