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How can we help brands become more social? 07/16/2008

Posted by Paul Daigle in Marketing, Social Media.
Tags: , , ,

ListeningTuesdaySeems like almost once a week I find myself reading a blog or industry report that works to redefine what social media means for marketers and advertisers. It’s pretty clear that the advertising and media industries are still wrestling with how they can gain real competitive advantages from the social Internet explosion.

But I wonder if discussing advertising in the context of social media misses the point entirely? Can a company succeed socially without first assembling the assets to function as a social company? Seems the resources and talent needed to succeed with social media have less to do with traditional advertising and marketing, and more to do with customer service, customer relationship management and PR.

Wikipedia defines PR as “the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its public.” Customer Service is defined as “the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.” These are the attributes that make companies social, as these functions are grounded in listening to customers and the market in order to better serve the needs, concerns and desires of the market. Customer relations and PR departments are better equipted to decipher and manage the constant changes in customer perception and market environments, and they know too well the importance of response. They are accomplished in the art of the 2-way conversation. Ironically, just as most businesses have given up on idea of real Customer Relationship Management (CRM), the ultimate CRM facilitator may well have just arrived.

CRM, according to Wikipedia, is “a multifaceted process, mediated by a set of information technologies that focuses on creating two-way exchanges with customers so that firms have an intimate knowledge of their needs, wants, and buying patterns. …CRM is intended to help companies understand, as well as anticipate, the needs of current and potential customers.”

Advertising, on the other hand, doesn’t know how to listen. Sure, you can run traditional ad campaigns within social settings, but the real opportunities being create here are not for traditional one-way messaging… but meaningful 2-way communication. There maybe a misalignment between the goals of marketing decision makers and opportunities provide by the social Internet, and this may explain why so many companies are moving so slowing, and acting so apprehensively towards the social media space.

Advertising, as we know it,  isn’t going to go away. Nor should it. Advertising will always be an important way to build brand and drive sales. But developing social strategies and advertising strategies may require completely different vocations. So I’m wondering whether marketing and advertising departments are where tomorrow’s corporate social strategies will reside.

In order for companies to succeed socially, many will have to restructure to become social entities. It will happen. But it will take time. Helping companies understand where their social assets lie and how to synthesize these assets to create modern CRM/Social Communication  teams maybe the answer. These teams could work to manage the ears, the face, and the personality of a company.

When we represent our companies at social events we try do so in a manner that communicates who we are, why we are there, and what we’d like to accomplish. We also know how important it is to understand who we are speaking to. We know that our success requires that we engage the room in conversation… and that we listen.

Welcome to social media.



1. Paul Daigle - 09/14/2009

An earlier version of this post from Blogger was quoted and discussed at Furrier.org

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