CMO NETWORK | 10/12/2011 @ 9:01AM
The sudden prominence and popularity of social media has created an unfamiliar venue for businesses – a world packed with both opportunities as well as pitfalls. Done well, socially-designed programs can help create a community of loyal advocates; done poorly, you brand yourself as inauthentic, out-of-touch, and maybe worst of all, boring.
This is the first of an extended exchange on the slippery crosswalk between social media and brand communications. DISCLAIMER: this blog is not the latest entrant to highlight the shiniest new social network. Nor what social media experts are hyping or blowing up on any given day. The goal is to highlight material issues senior marketers and communications execs should consider as they make social practices integral to their business.
One thing is certain: social business is no longer optional. More Americans now get news primarily from the Internet over traditional news sources; the number of 18-29-year-olds citing the Internet as their main source of news has nearly doubled since 2007. Even more pressing to marketing leaderspurchase intent is influenced more than ever by both positive and negative online reviews.
What’s on CMO’s minds as they go social? How do you create a first-rate social brand? And why does it matter? To answer these questions our firm, Weber Shandwick, partnered with Forbes Insights to find out more. We wanted to know how companies understand and plan their social efforts, and what emerging social leaders were doing right that other companies were missing. Not unexpectedly there’s a strategic gap to be addressed. Here are the highlights.
So let’s start with the good news. Companies no longer need to be convinced that an effective online presence is essential to their brand’s reputation.
The executives in our study, drawn from companies all over the world, attributed 52% of their brand’s reputation to their online social presence – and project that online sociability will account for 65% of their reputation in the next three years.
And the not-so-good-news.
While most companies have added social media to their marketing mix, only short list (16%) consider their efforts to be in their words “world class.”
In our study we find most businesses have trouble establishing clear goals for their social media strategy, rendering their efforts scattered and ineffective. Assessing impact remains a clear problem organizations need to come to terms with. Then there’s increasing complexity to navigate, one CMOs feel ill-prepared to address.
Companies that feel they get the most return from their investments are making real, authentic social engagement a central principle throughout their enterprise. They strive to maintain a constant interaction with their customers, learning from them directly what they want and don’t want on topics, products and experiences.
The key take-away here: for social media to be seen as successful, marketers will need to think beyond impressions, views and likes. And more about products, experiences and campaign ideas that have customer intelligence and preferences factored in.
In the coming posts, we’ll explore ideas and practices that show world-class potential. We also want to know about your social branding efforts. Are you really engaging with your customers – or are you boring them into your competitor’s arms? What brands are you most jealous of? Or have you decided to bypass social media for the most part, and if so, how’s that working out for you?