GM.

Social Media Is About More than Scrounging for Ad, Publicity ROI

"A good advertisement is one that sells the product without drawing attention to itself." - David Ogilvy. Image Source - "Mad Men," AMC Network

Pulling $10M of ads out of Facebook was only chump change for GM (0.5% of their ad budget), but it was enough to scare Zuck into selling $100M+ of stock just before it began its slide...pure coincidence of course.

Actually, it took guts for the GM ad folks to tell the world that Facebook people didn't like their ads.

Thankfully, some of 'em like their cars/trucks!

The problem wasn't (may not have been) the quality of the ads. The issue usually starts with the folks who are leading the social media marketing charge...the ad/publicity folks.

Social media was never developed to be an ad/publicity platform.

It just doesn't fit the conventional thought/action processes of these marketing folks. Social media isn't something marketers/communicators can control; and gawd, does that confuse them.

Since they can't control or measure it, they use soft metrics.

You know, "Look at all the Likes we got."

Not certain what that means since we all like lots of things.

Okay, maybe not cauliflower and broccoli but still...

The question is do all those Likes translate into marketers/communicators holy grail...marketing ROI?

More than ROI - Marketing folks love to measure the return on investment (ROI) of their advertising, publicity expenditures. But social media is rapidly changing the landscape for companies large and small. Sometimes you have to focus on what's important for the long-term growth and market perception of the company. It's all bottom-line, but it's all different tomorrow. Source - Anderson Analytics

Albert Einstein was right when it comes to social media ads/publicity, "Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted."

Counting Likes

That's certainly true of social media because it's so much more than Likes.

Some folks are starting to admit that they know social media has buzz; but they just haven't been able to figure out how to monetize it for their company, their product, themselves.

Don't Ask the Expert - The easiest thing for management to do is to hire a social media expert (advertising or PR) and turn the job - and their future - over to them. Social media, social technologies are changing, being refined every day. It's probably best to follow Nike's advice, "Just Do It." - Source - Equation Research

As Ford said following GM's public admission (they love to stick it to the guy down the road), "We've found Facebook ads to be very effective when strategically combined with engagement, great content and innovative ways of storytelling, rather than treating them as a straight advertising buy."

The truth is social media communications requires more work than most organizations - and most communicators - are willing to invest.

GM finally figured out (Ford said they already knew) that Likes don't usually translate into click-throughs and sales.

When they did produce sales, OMG they were very expensive!

But marketing/ad/publicist folks shouldn't fret because there are digital places where the counts count - third-party (or your own) newsletters, web sites, blogs, search engines. And don't forget the real media - online/print media, radio, TV.

If the site has 10s-100s of thousands of blog members and a few thousand of folks who come there to get news, information about cars, games, performance systems, whatever; that's the place you want your ads, your publicity.

If it's a place where people go to talk about themselves, their friends, their achievements they're whatever; it's pretty hard to drag their attention away from themselves to you.

Rather like holding a dinner party and your winery owner guest pulls up with his truck and starts hawking cases of wine...awkward!

Of course, you can't blow off social media like Facebook because after all it does have close to a billion of those people there.

New View

When you focus on your ideas and your content, great things happen.

Beyond the Ad, the Release - Using social media as an option for management to slowly, carefully reshape their organization and activities to take advantage of every opportunity to touch, talk with and work with all of their stakeholders can produce a world of rich opportunities for the firm, the products, the people involved. Source - Russell Herder, Ethos Business Law

Suddenly you find new measurements:

- Visitors to website/blog

- Page views

- Customer satisfaction

- Registered members/users

- Generated responses

- Word of mouth/referrals

- Online positive comments

- Search engine traffic

- Customer/partner issues resolved

- Product, service suggestions

Of course, that means you have to ... work!

You can't dismiss social media but need to focus on how to use it to your advantage to become a real social business.

Everything is Changing - When companies unleash the power, the potential of social media and social technologies to become social businesses, it encourages everyone to get involved in making the organization succeed. No one said it was going to be easy; but if it were, they wouldn't need you to be involved. Anyone could do it. Source: IDC

A social business is about a million miles from "business as usual," which is why so many organizations find it difficult -- and painful -- to fully embrace.

It involves a new focus internally and externally.

It means the company has to honestly:

- Be transparent

- Engaged with customers in an ongoing relationship

- Distribute, share power

- Distribute problem solving

- Have people willing to be leadership coaches, not controls

- Empower employees to contribute

- Develop an interdependent ecosystem of partners

- Deliver service when, where, how the customer wants

- Enable customers to define products/services

- Anticipate customer needs

Heavy Lifting

No that's not just work, that's a helluva' lot of work.

Work that means all of the tactics have to become an integral part of the organization's complete strategy for being in business... not just advertising, publicity.

Preparing for Tomorrow - While social media still suffers from the conventional thinking of being a marketing opportunity, it will quickly morph into a work/communications environment for everyone inside and outside the company. When that happens - and it will - there will be no turning back. Source - CMO Council

None of this is a totally new concept.

McKinsey and IDC have been advocating and studying/promoting the concept of fully integrated internal/external companies for years.

The idea is to take maximum advantage of social media and social technologies to work with customers and partners to blur the boundaries of the company.

IDC and McKinsey report that firms are slowly evolving to social businesses as they see positive results with every technology, social media activity they implement - internally and externally.

These extended organizations are seeing performance improvements across all of their stakeholder groups--especially in their communications with customers and integration with partners and suppliers.

When employees' work is highly integrated with social media, things just get better.

In fact, research shows that market leadership - the ultimate performance measure -significantly improves when day-to-day work seamlessly blends with social tools.

Even organizations that are in survival (or stubborn adherence) mode are dipping their corporate toes in a more professional manner.

Social Change - Social media was the first step in turning companies into social businesses that will impact everyone inside/outside the company. Organizations that are focused on change and advancement will move into a new more exciting space for people open to listening, communicating and working together. Source - McKinsey

They're using social media to scan the world outside for new ideas and carefully using those that help them manage projects, develop plans and allocate precious resources (talent).

They're starting slowly with small efforts and building on each success.

Brave New World

It's the beginning of a whole new business world with processes, procedures, responsibility, accountability and bragging rights spread throughout the organization, well beyond an ad person or publicist.

Of course, that means cultural and hierarchical mindsets will have to change dramatically as boundaries among employees, vendors, customers blur; teams organize themselves and data- driven decisions become more important.

Senior management will have to lead by example, by thinking strategically as to how they are going to use social technologies in their business.

By helping his/her organization navigate the new environment, they will forge stronger links with their outside stakeholders.

There definitely seems to be a lot of competitive benefits in using social technologies to improve their internal processes.

Changing a lifetime of what people - and you - have known as "business management control" isn't an easy task.

The Future Lies Ahead - Sometimes it's difficult to impossible to see what tomorrow promises companies, their products and their people. It wasn't that long ago Facebook and Twitter sounded "whacko." Tomorrow, you'll probably wonder how companies survived inside their hardened walls and walled gardens.

There will be significant disruption, which some people will find extremely difficult to handle.

Hopefully, they'll think of it as something that will make their lives richer, better, more fulfilling.

Or, maybe they'll just try a new ad or publicity campaign.

Author:.

G. A. "Andy" Marken President Marken Communications, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Andy has worked in front of and behind the TV camera and radio mike. Unlike most PR people he listens to and understands the consumer’s perspective on the actual use of products. He has written more than 100 articles in the business and trade press. During this time he has also addressed industry issues and technologies not as corporate wishlists but how they can be used by normal people. He has been a marketing an...

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