Social Media Renders Your Marketing Strategy Obsolete. NOT!

March 17, 2009
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The evolution of social media has all my marketing and CRM buddies a-twitter. (Sorry). They understand that there is promise in using social media tools to strengthen their brand images, to share company news, and to connect with customers and prospects. It’s just that they can’t seem to tear executives away from their balance sheets long enough to enlighten them.

Facebook_Deactivation_Screen

Indeed, faced with falling stock prices, budget cuts, and shareholder disaffection, your CFO is all for social media, as long as it’s free. Your CEO thinks Delicious is a porn site that should be blacklisted from corporate access. And forget about asking your CTO to start blogging. He’s hunkered down trying to figure out the next disruptive innovation, and pronto!

But your marketing department is intrigued, enough to form a social networking task force and send twenty seven staff members to BlogWorld Expo. And just when you think social media has saturated the marketing Zeitgeist, you overhear your CMO say the words, “Friend me” to a supplier. This exchange strikes you as obscene, not because of any sexual undertones but because what the hell is he doing on Facebook anyway, he has a marketing orga

The evolution of social media has all my marketing and CRM buddies a-twitter. (Sorry). They understand that there is promise in using social media tools to strengthen their brand images, to share company news, and to connect with customers and prospects. It’s just that they can’t seem to tear executives away from their balance sheets long enough to enlighten them.

Facebook_Deactivation_Screen

Indeed, faced with falling stock prices, budget cuts, and shareholder disaffection, your CFO is all for social media, as long as it’s free. Your CEO thinks Delicious is a porn site that should be blacklisted from corporate access. And forget about asking your CTO to start blogging. He’s hunkered down trying to figure out the next disruptive innovation, and pronto!

But your marketing department is intrigued, enough to form a social networking task force and send twenty seven staff members to BlogWorld Expo. And just when you think social media has saturated the marketing Zeitgeist, you overhear your CMO say the words, “Friend me” to a supplier. This exchange strikes you as obscene, not because of any sexual undertones but because what the hell is he doing on Facebook anyway, he has a marketing organization to run!

If you’re like me, you’ve noticed that the social media buzz is taking far more time and energy than the answer to the question, “How will sales and marketing support this year’s corporate objectives?” Many sales and marketing organizations have emphasized social media at the expense of their strategies. It’s as if strategy doesn’t matter anymore.

Newsflash: It does. Moreover, the past is prologue. Companies that emerged from the last recession did so by returning to fundamentals. They understood that technology—even the coolest let’s-get-naked-and-party, Sandhill Road-backed, WTF 2.0 software—was nevertheless still a means to an end. In 2001, writing in Harvard Business Review as the dot-com bubble spewed its detritus far and wide, Michael Porter said of the Internet:

“Two broad conclusions can be drawn. First, many businesses active on the Internet are artificial businesses competing by artificial means and propped up by capital that until recently had been readily available. Second, in periods of transition such as the one we have been going through, it often appears as if there are new rules of competition. But as market forces play out, as they are now, the old rules regain their currency. The creation of true economic value once again becomes the final arbiter of business success.”

If you substitute the Internet theme of Porter’s assertion with social media, the same truisms apply. Companies still have to articulate how they intend to compete in the market, serve their customers in differentiating ways, and innovate. Smart marketing, customer experience management, and CRM leaders will lift their heads from their Facebook 25 Things lists, craft a deliberate, multi-media plan that supports their firms’ unique value proposition, and then—only then—determine how social media will fit. Got that? Okay, now friend me.

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