Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Canadian Marketing Blog - Canadian Marketing Association: Social Media: Don’t Mistake The Journey For The Destination

Over the past few years, you’ve probably heard stories about drivers so focused on their GPS directions, they end up in a river. Whether true or made-up, like the one about lemmings following each other en masse off a cliff, I wonder if – in response to social media’s red hot popularity -- marketers may be headed somewhere they don’t intend.

Don’t get me wrong. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other sites may be effective communication channels to help reach your marketing objectives. I just wonder whether marketers are treating social media as an objective – “quick let’s get a Facebook fan page up!” – rather than understanding its usefulness and role as a tool.

Put another way, it’s important not to think of social media as the destination itself, but rather a tool to get us to our destination – in this case achieving our objectives. And, as with any potentially powerful tool, we need to learn more about how social media works, who’s using it and why before we’ll really know if it can help us get where we want to go.

Take how social media relates to the work I’m doing on WOM. Some hypothesize that influencers – because they like to talk – may be more active in the social media space. In fact, the research doesn’t bare that out:

 Influencers don’t have more accounts than the regular Joe
 They don’t spend more time on Facebook, MySpace or Twitter
 They still prefer to share information – which they may gather from email or social media sites – the old fashioned way, face to face

Charlene Li, formally an analyst at Forrester, and the co-author of Groundswell offers some other learnings and insights into the minds of social media participants and how they actually differ, dividing them into the following segments:

 Creators: create or upload content
 Critics: respond to content from others
 Collectors: organize content for themselves, others
 Joiners: connect in social networks like Facebook
 Spectators: read, listen but do not participate
 Inactives: neither create nor consume

These two quick snapshots alone, I think, demonstrate that developing a successful social media presence first requires understanding who it works for and why. Then you can figure out how best to use the new medium to promote, engage and dialogue with consumers so you can meet your marketing objectives – without getting all wet.

Do you agree marketers are jumping a little too quickly on the social media bandwagon?

EXTRA! EXTRA! We’ll be holding an information-packed webcast on May 19th to present key findings from our recent white paper on influencers, plus other research and case studies. Click to learn more or to register. You won’t want to miss it! P.S You can also follow us on Twitter - we'll be tweeting before, during and after the event - @icomwom - hope you can join us!
Canadian Marketing Blog - Canadian Marketing Association by Gillian MacPherson

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