SOCIAL: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE C-SUITE
[Re-printed with permission from the author, Dave Taddeo. A CEO who “gets” it.]
WHAT IS SOCIAL?
Social is this thing that people use to communicate and share. It started with Friendster only 10 years ago and eventually many other sites started popping up.
People share all kinds of things including what they are doing at any moment, photos of friends, family and events, and videos. Keeping in touch with (and track of) more friends than would normally be possible, is now possible. Sharing status updates and other kinds of media with more than a few (or hundreds or thousands) of people at the same time with the ability for all those people to comment and give their input became ‘valuable’. All the information about people and what they share and with whom became a goldmine for marketers. Especially when they share their opinions, photos and videos about your product and/or services. Instantly. Twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week.
Social marketing is when your marketers put your ads and information on social websites.
Wait. Let’s go back for a minute.
Remember when the marketing team at your company sent out flyers house to house and had newspapers and magazines print ads and delivered and sold to poll-generated demographic communities? Those newspapers and magazines told you that a certain number of people not only saw your ad, but read it and they charged you based on that certain number of people seeing your ad and reading it. Newspapers and magazines based their numbers on circulation. The higher the circulation, the more they can charge you based on that certain number of people seeing and reading your ad. How many times did someone in the C-suite at your company ask the newspaper or magazine how certain they were that people saw and read your ad based on circulation number? This is a well-developed advertising model going on several decades. Sixty or seventy years worth of printing and distributing. What’s to question? Maybe, ‘How many distributed copies of your publication were looked at before they were dropped in the recycling bin? Are you charging me too much? Show me the numbers.’
Back to the present.
Now you can budget your marketing and ad dollars and know it is targeted to people who consciously stated they are interested in your product or service. You can pay to have an ad shown to a person who is actually interested. You can also decide to (only) pay if someone consciously clicks on your ad and brings them to your site or a promotional web page. You know your marketing and ad dollars are being spent on real potential customers. As newspapers and magazines phase out of existence, your marketing and ad dollars should shift substantially to where your real potential customers are.
Now that you’re doing that, you need to serve those real potential customers where they are and how they’ve become accustomed to being served. Take the marketing out of ‘social marketing’ and get social. Take a second and go back and read the last 2 sentences of the first section.
“Especially when they share their opinions, photos and videos about your product and/or services. Instantly. Twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week.”
This is fundamental. Make no mistake about it. You need to be there to be a part of it lest it takes on a form of it’s own. This is not easy. It may even be a bit scary. You need to engage a community that has risen around your product or service in a professional, yet complementary manner in which the community behaves. This is completely different from printing an ad, hoping someone sees it and is compelled to purchase your product or service, and if customers need help providing a phone number in which they call, follow the automated instructions and wait for someone to speak to them about any issue they may have.
Take a few minutes and come to the realization that the ad and phone call model is cumbersome and upsets your customers when all they want is what they’ve become accustomed to; quick and easy communication where they already are – social. They want to do that with you. Badly.
How do you get social? The way social is done is upside-down to the old ad and phone center model you’re used to. Contact the experts. Find a company or contractor to set you up and inform you of what to do and how to move forward. They know what social is. They’ve been doing it for a long time, not only as a service they provide to companies (including your competitors) but also in their spare time for themselves (as themselves) with their friends and families and followers.
This costs money. Real money. But you cannot afford to not be social. Your customers and potential customers now require it. Getting social is the future for your company. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.
Think about it. If a potential customer has a question about your product or service, or has a problem with your product or service that can be rectified with a question posed to a customer service rep from your company, which company do you think will win that customer’s/potential customer’s loyalty or next purchase? The answer is very easy. The company that can get the information to the customer/potential customer with as little ‘friction’ as possible. More and more customers/potential customers are spending more and more of their time at their keyboards. More and more device (electronic gadgets) and TV manufacturers are working hard so that you can put your ads and customer service where your customers/potential customers eyes already are. Make it ‘frictionless’ (easy) for your customers to contact you. Put yourself right in that line of sight.
SOCIAL. MEDIA. MARKETING.
Social media marketing are 3 different things, so stop putting those 3 words together in one bastardized term.
Marketing you should already know. Leave it to the marketing department. Get some marketers who know how to bring your product or service to the ever-evolving internet (including the social websites). Find a company or contractor who follows and knows the varying websites and trends. Once again, they are the experts. They know what’s going on online as it changes day-to-day.
Media is just that. Media. Photos, videos and commentary about your company and it’s products or services. The ever-active 24/7 presence of the global internet means you have to provide as such.
Social is the new tricky thing you have to adapt to. You have to be there, but how do you get there? Do what you do best and leave social to those that know it and live it.
Successfully putting the above mentioned 3 things together is how you become successful. Placing videos or photos (media) promoting your company (marketing) where your customers are (social) is new and essential for your success. It’s the undeniable future.
Getting social and adding your marketing and media is a very large and complex endeavor. It develops and evolves every day to something different from what it was the day before. The players can change just as quick. To be a part of social, which is essential, you have to make sure you have good people doing it for you.
First let me ask you when the last time you asked your customer service management what the ROI is on what they do? It’s a stupid question. Serving your customers to satisfaction has no ROI. It’s just I(nvestment) in your product or service. It’s I(nvestment) in satisfying your customers. The R(eturn) is return customers.
Investing in social is investing in your company. Getting social with your customers lets them know you’re there and ready to be… well, social with them. Marketing and adding media while being social with your customers is the ultimate trifecta. Being social means talking to customers, listening to customers, solving problems for customers, marketing to customers, sharing media with customers and last but not least, having fun with your customers. This costs money. Real money. The return on your investment in getting social is karma. You can’t count the profits based on being part of a community where your interactions define who your company is and what your company does. And please please please for Christ’s sake, please stop looking for a defined percentage increase in profits next quarter based on how much money you spent on good social services last quarter. Your return is karma and that takes many quarters. You have to earn that karma by being there for your customers where they are time and time again from here on out.
You want to know numbers just like you wanted to know the numbers from the newspapers and magazines. But you have to know this is different. The old ‘place an ad and get the made up circulation numbers from the printer’ model doesn’t apply anymore so don’t try to make it apply. Getting social encompasses much more than having a ‘certain’ number of people seeing and reading your ad or marketing campaign. Your customers can read and then re-post your copy. They can comment on it and share it with others, many others. The 24/7 viewing, re-posting and/or comments cannot be held to the same accounting standards as that ‘certain’ number of people who saw and read your print ad that they could not view, copy and share and/or comment on. This is new. It’s still in development in an ever-developing social space. How much do you value a re-post? A comment (positive or negative)? Having your media available to the world 24/7 regardless of when you provided it? Stop doing the math for a minute and start gathering statistics. Gather statistics over a quarter, 2 quarters, a fiscal year, two fiscal years… then look back and see how things are going and start building a model. You need the data. You already have the data for print ads. Before asking for your ROI get some data so you know what you’re actually asking for.
JUST DO IT RIGHT
You’re in the C-suite because you bring a certain skill and value to the company you work for. Unless you are a part of the C-suite for one of the websites where your customers are, then leave it to those that know how to get your company social in one of those sites. The social company or contractors you obtain social services from (be it social, media or marketing, or all 3) provide their services because they bring a certain skill and value to their clients. Take some time and do your due-diligence and choose a social service provider that you believe will fulfill your company’s needs being social.
You don’t have a choice. You have to get social. It’s the way the world is going whether you like it or not. Do your job and pay attention, but do it right. Leave it to the experts and rest assured knowing you don’t have a choice.
Thank you for your time.