Holland: Going outside your comfort zone or trying something new can be rewarding and refreshing for a brand, but just make sure your technology team is able to support it, or at least agree to be part of the vetting-out process, especially if it is truly something new and bold.
-- Sandra Gittlen
Social marketing: Early days
Mark Fidelman, author of Socialized!: How the Most Powerful Businesses Harness the Power of Social, has witnessed a lot of confusion in the social marketing arena, stemming mostly from an attachment to traditional marketing strategies.
Marketing gets stuck on lead generation, he says, instead of looking at the real value of social media. "Social marketing is less about converting clicks into deals and more about creating relationships. Eventually the trust built causes people to buy and that's how you monetize social marketing," Fidelman says, although there are no hard-and-fast numbers that prove that assertion.
Before that can happen, businesses must bust up internal roadblocks such as a tendency to hoard information and maintain silos. Social marketing relies on cross-departmental collaboration to extract the most value from feedback and analytics.
For social marketing to reach maximum maturity, IT must be involved in strategy, which is not standard practice in organizations today. Marketing teams either go it alone or hire outsourcers to meet IT needs.
Primarily, IT must be on board because data gathered from social media platforms must be fed into back-end systems for analysis that can be distributed throughout the organization to inform decisions. Keeping that data out of reach defeats its purpose and diminishes its power, according to Fidelman.
By partnering with IT early on, he says, companies can achieve the holy grail of social marketing: providing customers the right message at the right time on the right platform and in the right context.
For more on the marketing/IT relationship, see "Social marketing goes better with IT."
Changing content in response to data
Publishers Clearing House (PCH) shares this vision, already giving social marketing equal visibility with television and online advertising, events and direct marketing.