'Forget perfect' - lessons from social media marketing

A panel of social media marketing experts at Social Media Forum Europe debate how organisations can build engagement and increase customer value.

For organisations, social media enables the democratisation of brand and facilitates real time communications.  Organisations must grapple with how these tools can be used not only to raise visibility but also to facilitate high-value conversations.

Unlearn entrenched ideas

The fact that organisations no longer 'own' their brand message is a challenging concept.   Social media can help find out the lie, the failure or the broken promise.  Perhaps marketing should move away from 'persuasion' and focus on simply telling the truth. 

Some organisations, however, are falling into old fashioned traps when it comes to social media marketing.   They are doing it because they feel they should or because their competitors are doing it and are forgetting to create a proper strategy that focuses on objectives.  There is some irony in spending a great deal of money on a corporate website and adding buttons all over it that encourage your users to navigate away from your site!

Forget perfection

The challenge with large brands in particular is that they want to be perfect.  There is an opportunity for organisations that leave behind the 'we are perfect' model of marketing and embrace a fail culture.  Indeed, it's easier to trust organisations that are prepared to admit when they are wrong. Small scale experimentation and a willingness to fail and learn should be encouraged.   

The larger the organisations, the less likely they are to give themselves permission to 'play' and accept the new gamification models.    

Good practice and big fails

  • It's pointless to count your 'likes' on Facebook. It often makes no difference to behaviour.
  • Even a purchase does not mean the consumer likes you ("my new phone is rubbish")
  • Integrity and honesty will get you through
  • Build 'an army of fanatics'. This will be the most effective marketing force of your life.
  • Constantly ask yourself why people would want to engage with you
  • Focus on the relevance of your communication and the transparency of your offering
  • 'Lego for adults' engaged with fanatic bloggers and brought them into the product lifecycle
  • The lost opportunity of FedEx who shut down 'FedEx Furniture'
  • Peoples' networks are acting as a 'proxy for search'
  • Don't look at your social media only from the viewpoint of the 'innovator'. Think about the 'adaptors' too
  • The top 25 apps in any app chart will show you how to engage well
  • Facebook crowdsourced the French translation of its site
  • CocaCola's Facebook page was started by fans and then supported by CocaCola.

Like information work, marketing is all about the right information to the right people at the right time.  Companies need to be seen to be human and to respect both privacy and preference if they want to win in this new world.

The conference panel session, ably facilitated by the entrepreneur Jonathan MacDonald, featured inputs from:

Image courtesy of Zephyrance via Flickr.