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  Going Social: Brands Large and Small Must Adapt to Social Media in 2011    Barry Silverstein  
         
 
The commercials featured the cheeky “Old Spice man,” a buff former football player named Isaiah Mustafa, who quipped his way to national fame. Posted on YouTube, Old Spice man videos garnered over 140 million views. The brand’s Twitter followers exploded by 2,700 percent. Old Spice ended 2010 with over 1.2 million Facebook fans. P&G reported at year-end that sales of Old Spice were growing by double digits.
 
The stunning success of the Old Spice social media campaign was one reason P&G made an equally stunning announcement in December. The nation’s largest advertiser said it would forgo further involvement with daytime television serials (called “soap operas” because P&G used them to sell soap, dishwashing liquid and laundry detergent) in favor of a hefty investment in social media.

Lest marketers underestimate the significance of this strategic shift, it’s worth pointing out that P&G invested more than $8.5 billion on advertising last year, most of it in traditional media. The company not only advertised its products on soap operas, it produced the shows themselves. P&G’s stable includes some of the world’s best known brands, such as Cover Girl, Crest, Duracell, Gillette, Olay, Pampers and Tide, to name a few.

It was only a year ago that P&G started taking social media marketing seriously, opening a Silicon Valley outpost to become immersed in it. At the time, David Hornik of August Capital wrote on VentureBlog, “P&G’s explicit goal for 2010 is to assure that each of its brands has a meaningful presence on Facebook, and they are willing to pay dearly for that. … they certainly view Facebook as a must-have for digital advertising and brand building.”

P&G’s social media pronouncement is likely to re-shape the entire marketing world’s view of social media as a brand marketing medium and, as a result, have a domino effect on marketers large and small. While some early business adopters have been using social media for quite some time, it is a form of brand marketing still in its infancy. That means rules of what to do and when to do it are in flux and measurement criteria are fuzzy at best.

Brand marketers must understand that what they do and say via social media needs to complement rather than conflict with the brand’s image. Social media demands a level of intense, intimate interaction with consumers that makes it all the more challenging to maintain brand integrity.

One thing seems clear: While integrating social media into a brand marketing campaign is becoming essential, it demands a different way of thinking about the lead qualification process. Brand marketers have been accustomed to a fairly straightforward lead generation and qualification structure. Typically, a single consumer learns about a product via traditional media, samples it, and if she likes it, she becomes a regular buyer.

Social media, however, adds a new dimension to the process. For one thing, the consumer enters into a dialog with the brand marketer via social media, creating a responsibility on the part of the brand marketer to respond in a timely, meaningful way. For another, the consumer wields a new authority: She can use social media to influence a much larger circle of friends and acquaintances. Both positive and negative experiences with a brand can be widely and quickly dispersed and “go viral.” That could obviously be a double-edged sword.

When it comes to measuring the ROI of social media, many marketers still struggle, but others are figuring out how to evaluate its impact. Here’s what some marketers who use social media have to say about ROI.

“The ROI is a bit harder to measure, since there is no way to trace whether the buzz we build online translates into sales,” says Cynthia Shannon, a publicist for Berrett-Koehler Publishers in San Francisco, California. “However, we use tools like bit.ly to track click through, and every month I track the number of new followers and use HubSpot Graders to see where we stand in comparison to the rest of the social mediasphere.”

“On a daily basis we track the number of fans and followers from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn,” says Lin Parkin, public relations manager for Voices.com, a website that connects businesses with professional voice talent. For example, in just three months our social media efforts achieved over 19,000 Facebook referrals. During that time we had over 778.000 unique visitors to our website and over 4,000 job postings worth more than $1 million.”

 
CareOne Services Inc., a debt relief company that offers customers solutions to help manage financial problems, began using social media in 2005, when it built its own online community. According to the company, when prospects interact with the community, it results in a 179 percent improvement in prospects signing up for a debt relief plan, and a 217 percent improvement in prospects making their first payment, versus individuals who did not interact with the community.

Nichole Kelly, Director of Social Media for CareOne Services, says social media should be measured on the basis of: exposure, influence, engagement, action/conversion, sales, and retention. “Social media is like the almighty assist,” she says. “It can help add more opportunities to convert business, but at the end of the day it is just putting leads in the funnel. Your normal sales process is responsible for converting those leads.”

Marketers struggle with another reality: Adding social media to the mix increases complexity. The marketer often must dedicate a resource to monitoring media and communicating with consumers. Cultivating and maintaining relationships with hundreds, thousands, or maybe even millions of people is required. Filtering through comments and criticism, responding, and taking appropriate action becomes essential. This isn’t something every marketer is prepared for. The “biggest mistake U.S. marketing professionals have made with social media” is “not allocating proper time/resources,” according to the results of a November 2010 survey reported by eMarketer.

The good news is a brand marketer who has been excellent at building customer relationships through traditional channels – for example, using direct mail, email, telephone and a website/blog to address issues and keep customers informed – is likely to be well positioned to succeed with social media. This marketer already recognizes that providing great customer service is a cornerstone of brand loyalty.

But if a brand marketer hasn’t been steeped in the principles of customer relationship management, the necessary social media mindset may be lacking. In this case, employing social media marketing will only serve to make the marketer’s weaknesses more obvious. This marketer will have to work a lot harder to get the most value out of social media.

Going social will demand a whole new level of consumer responsiveness from brand marketers – and a whole new way of looking at the lead generation and qualification process. Those who rise to that challenge will have a distinct advantage over their competitors in 2011.     

[7-Jan-2011]

 
  
  

Barry Silverstein has been a frequent brandchannel contributor since 2007. He has thirty years of advertising and marketing experience and is currently a freelance writer and marketing consultant. He founded and ran his own direct marketing agency and held executive positions with Epsilon, a leading database marketing firm and Arnold, a major ad agency. Silverstein is the author of three marketing books, including the McGraw-Hill book, The Breakaway Brand, which he co-authored with Arnold CEO Fran Kelly.

     
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Going Social - Brands Large and Small Must Adapt to Social Media in 2011
 
 we have found a site called engagmentdb.com which is seeking to correlate depth and breadth of engagement with overall financial health - worth a look 
Lisa Tomlinson, Planning Dircetor, McCann Erickson - January 10, 2011
 
 this is very informative and interesting. 
Sandra kanyoro, BDM, Habari Group - January 10, 2011
 
 Sure enough, companies spend too much money on marketing researches and advertising departments. They give people information of their products in newspaper custom essays and billboards, cinema tickets and social media. 
Peter Waxly, researcher, Trifon labs - February 2, 2011
 
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