There’s no doubt that Social Media has changed the game for Marketers, but so far this has just meant internal marketing departments adjust to new methods of communication.
However, if you consider what exactly SM does for the relationship between the company and the customer, it should actually fundamentally change what the marketing departent does.
Traditionally, an internal marketing department will get involved with ‘big idea’ marketing – finding new niches, new markets, how to fill them, defining the message, and then rolling it out. There’s a lot of work to be done in this, and this is what fills most of a traditional marketers time.
If you’re customers are really active in Social media, though, you should throw this out of the window. That’s because, much more than ever, SM gives a very public forum to customers experiences, both good and bad.
You can’t control the message – the brand if you like – anymore, so why try? Wouldn’t it be much more effective if the marketing department spent it’s time analysing the minutae of every single customer touch point, and ensuring that the people involved at those points understand what the company stands for, and how their performance affects the brand, its value, and the company’s profitability.
Scrap the design agency – fancy pants graphics only really matter if your product is ‘high-brand’ (like Nike, where the name means so much more than the product). For your website, usability is all. If it looks terrible but works great, it will get noticed (Ryan Air’s website looks terrible – deliberately so, I think – but searching and booking is still easy).
As I say, you don’t control your brand anymore, your customers do (haven’t they always?) so why put your effort into a logo redesign, when monitoring and responding to negative and positive comments on the social web could enhance your brand much more, and create those all important cyberspace advocates that help drive traffic, and demand, to your product.
Most marketers are still only just waking up to the game-changing nature of Social Media, perhaps because it will take time for the digital natives to come through to the key positions, but it does seem from the number of ‘Understanding Social Media’ courses around that they are waking up. However, will they be willing and able to adapt and do what the most successful social media sites, like Facebook and YouTube did – forget about the ‘look and feel’ and the fancy ‘fun’ bits of marketing, and get right down to functionality and customer experience?
I fancy that those that do will flourish.