Focus on the Social Approach Instead of the Social Medium

a social approach to digital marketingAs enterprise marketers, part of our role is to look forward into the future to see what’s ahead in the next 12-24 months, possibly even longer. What’s coming down the pipeline that directly impacts our brand, our customers and our ability to positively influence profitable growth for our organization?

Although it’s relatively easy to stay on top of technology trends and select which ones to invest in, the big question isn’t necessarily what to use–it’s how to use it. A prime example? Social media.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know about social media–and you’re likely using it regularly, both for yourself and your company and clients. That being said, have we really become “social” through social media? Or did we simply add one more channel to our marketing mix without understanding the message and power behind it? I often wonder if we’ve missed something big in our rush to get ahead of the social media curve.

The Social Approach

Big corporations have done a 180-degree turn in the last five years. We’ve gone from controlling/ignoring customers to being distinctly aware of every sneeze or cough they make in our direction, all thanks to social media. In a way, social media forced us to “own up” to how we were treating people on whom we depend. And in many cases, it affected our go-to-market strategy both positively and negatively. The big win, however, was that social media brought with it a bright, new perspective for engaging customers as an enterprise.

In your own experience with social media, you’ve probably realized that the secret to success doesn’t lie in social media as a channel, but instead as an approach to the customer. It’s not what we do, but how we do it, that matters. And, in fact, it’s your social approach that matters most.

Better Flexibility and Better Integration

The two key benefits to a social approach are:

Better strategic flexibility: By adopting a social approach, you take a big step closer to the future of the social enterprise. Your strength becomes your ability to be social with customers through all channels, not just social media. If social media disappears or evolves, you stay strong, nimble and connected.

Better integration with marketing and other departments in the enterprise: A social approach influences policy, content and how we attract and keep customers. It is more than a mere aspect of our brand, and its positive benefits extend well beyond marketing to help create that holistic, positive customer experience we want to deliver.

Is the Tail Wagging the Dog?

The big risk of maintaining a laser focus on social media rather than crafting and integrating a comprehensive social approach is that we become slaves to the channel rather than becoming masters of social engagement. What happens when social media evolves, or, worse, fades out altogether?

Impossible to think that? That’s what the folks who made the fax machine and VHS tapes thought in the ’80s and ’90s, too. While it’s certain the social customer is here, social media’s existence is something that’s left in constant question.

One thing is clear: the media we use to communicate with our customers (and they to us!) is going to continue to evolve rapidly with or without us. Instead, you need an approach that allows you to adapt to any channel, rather than having the channel dictate your strategy. Further, as the social customer evolves, we remain connected and relevant though all channels, rather than just one.

Is the social media tail wagging your strategic dog?

Jeff Wilson

Jeff Wilson is a marketing futurist and customer acquisition specialist. For over 15 years, Jeff’s work has assisted many leading global B2B and B2C enterprises in significantly improving how they attract and engage prospective customers to turn them into profitable relationships. Past clients include HP, IBM, Home Depot, ING Direct, Symantec and Syngenta. You can find Jeff on Twitter at @jeffthesensei.

 

 

Photo by kirainet via Creative Commons

  • http://twitter.com/TedRubin Ted Rubin

    Great post. So important to remember that is about the people and the approach, not the platform. The platform is simply the tool.

  • ShellyKramer

    Agreed, Ted. But then you and I? We’re frequently on the same page!

    Focus on the Social Approach Instead of the Social Medium

  • http://twitter.com/Mr_Madness Amar Trivedi

    Great post, Jeff. Approach > Medium. Can’t agree more. The last 5-7 years were about building the road and putting the signs in place. Now it’s about driving business forward, charting the smartest route(s), creating memorable customer journey(s) and having fun along the way! In today’s global marketplace, any business (big/ small) would perform better (internally/ externally) as a social business. The Social Approach = Focus on People, not the Platform. (Nicely put, Ted. Howdy Shelly!)

  • http://twitter.com/jeffthesensei Jeff Wilson

    Hi Amar, Thanks for your comment. Yes i agree, it is time to evolve past what social media has started. Smart companies will realize they are on a path not at the destination.

  • http://twitter.com/jeffthesensei Jeff Wilson

    Hi Ted, Absolutely agree. All the great innovations to come are not what we use to engage, but how we engage.

  • http://m1c.com/ Ali Almoosawi

    Jeff, in Kuwait…businesses are still lacking on how to use social media, i am talking about the approach. We need to educate businesses about these two key benefits. Loved the article, thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/jeffthesensei Jeff Wilson

    Hi Ali, Thanks and i agree. More education and following up by helping companies identify the right path forward for them and their customers is critical to future success. The interesting situation you are in may actually put you farther ahead than companies in North America that have embraced social media and myopically believe its the solution to becoming a social enterprise.

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Jeff, too many organizations put social on the task list and assign some people to interact online. I think in 2013 and going forward organizations will really need to look at how they operate as a whole organization and transform how they work. The organizations that radically change will have a better chance of survival. I know some organizations have successfully done this already but not enough of them!
    Ian

  • Pingback: Markidia » Focus on the Social Approach Instead of the Social Medium

  • ShellyKramer

    Ian, I agree!! It’s not too late to adapt and change, but the sooner businesses do that, the greater chances of success they’ll have! Thanks for coming by!

  • http://twitter.com/jeffthesensei Jeff Wilson

    Hi Ian, Agreed. Its interesting to look at organizations like living organisms or colonies of living organisms that are constantly in a state of adaptation according to internal and external influencing forces. Social Media was a sign of much greater social/cultural change in the external environment affecting all companies and indeed society. The smart organization, as you have pointed out, is continually adapting to these changes to not only survive, but thrive in these new conditions.

    Its fascinating to watch it unfold from the 30,000 foot level and certainly presents numerous new opportunities for the more enlightened organizations.

    Appreciate the further nurturing of the concept!

You can also find me on Google+ Real Time Web Analytics