I still use an RSS reader (in fact I use our version of NetVibes - TheDailyInfluence). I read lots of people who write about their experience in digital marketing and social media. I routinely check in on Olivier Blanchard who blogs/tweets under the brandbuilder handle and has a sharp POV.
Recently, Olivier wrote a post titled "10 Truths about Social Media & Social Business you need to know." I have a bone to pick with him. Of his ten points, I disagree with 3 and agree with 3. The other 4 are indisputable. Okay, truth be told, Olivier has given us all a good list which I am merely using as foil to make my own points. You can see his full post here to understand his points. But here they are in headline form:
- “Social” is something you are, not something you do
- You cannot outsource customer relationships to an agency
- A blog is just a blog. It isn’t a magical trust and influence publishing converter for the web
- Marketing on social media channels isn’t “social.” It is just marketing
- Transparency isn’t just a word. If you don’t intend to practice it, don’t preach it
- Change management, not social media tools and platforms, is at the crux of social media program development
- People are more important than technology. Hire people who care about other people
- Social media should not be managed by Marketing anymore than your phones should be managed by Sales
- Shut up and listen
- Any consultant, “thought leader,” agency or partner who doesn’t tell you these things isn’t fit to be consulted on the subject
3 "Truths" I Disagree With
Social is a way to behave - Many companies do have cultures and ways of doing business that are conducive to "being social." And, in fact, there may be many companies who are not very customer-centric in their practices and find it difficult to embrace all of the marketing and communications behaviors that fall under the broad umbrella of social media (not every company can be Zappos). But social media marketing and communications and the broader category of social business are all about ways of behaving. Never before have organizations been judged so relentlessly on their behavior and actions as they are now in the vast bright light of the Internet. Many companies are trying to change and using social media as the catalyst. They are each doing this through new behaviors. Last week at our social business event at PivotCon, Christine Cea shared about her stewardship of the Unilever Social Engagement Playbook. That is a great example of a marketer with a particular culture changing with and because of the pressures of social media.
Organizations must align all partners to build strong customer relationships - brands outsource services all of the time. This biggest example is customer service - the front line of customer relationships. We manage tons of customer relationships for brands via Facebook walls and Twitter handles and more. We can do this because we live and breathe 'customer-centricity." At our best, we become fully integrated partners with clients where our brand knowledge and understanding of the business is indistinguishable from a brand staffer. The notion that a partner like an agency consultant is driven by different priorities is over-played and just plain wrong. We will when we accelerate our client's business, period. That being said, I do believe that our work on the front lines of conversation management is a training wheels moment for brands. We give clients the chance to quickly implement community management programs such that they can then budget for staff in year 2 or 3.
Transparency isn't black and white - we all wave the flag of transparency around a bit too indiscriminately. Transparency in business is a strategic choice and there a thousand choices to make about when to be transparent, somewhat transparent and purposely opaque. We tend to confuse the simple principle that "transparency is good" with the practices of business which gets messy. Most folks are "for" transparency. Smart business people must make decisions about employee privacy, intellectual property protection, liability and risk, competitive advantage and more. All of these things can limit a company's ability to act transparently and should. Alternatively, proponents of transparency say the company's supply chain should be transparent, for example, and reveal poor practices like hiring suppliers who exploit workers. Supply chain transparency is inevitable. Anyone can discover almost anything with enough digging. I would prefer if companies focused more on their commitment to character which would eradicate choosing suppliers who behave unethically then worry about how transparent they ought to be.
3 "Truths" I Agree With
Marketing on social media platforms isn't inherently 'social' - I call it the practice of just "being there" - being on Facebook, being on YouTube. Just launching a cool application on Facebook or series of videos on YouTube isn't inherently social in that it is not designed to build a two-way relationship over the long haul. To this day, there are heated debates about what defines social media - what is its true nature. That is a false argument (IMHO). I believe brands can reap the biggest benefit from social media when they design programs to earn the attention, advocacy and action from their customers, influencers and stakeholders. That doesn't mean that programs that stop short of this are bad. they are simply something else....marketing.
Social media is changing organizations - few companies talk in terms of "change management" around their marketing teams or partners. But, whether they are conscious of it or not, the practice of trying to master the benefits of social media is driving big FMCGs and mainframe companies to really change how they are organized, how they do business, how they treat employees and how they measure success. If that isn't change management then I don't know what is. Look at IBM. They launched an internal and external focus on "social business" where they productize what they have found valuable to their own organization. Big consumer goods companies like P&G, Unilever and Nestle are changing how they market and how they manage customer relationships. Unlike the Deming principles of Top Quality Management or other models to guide change management which often champion starting at the top, social media has been provoking change form the middle or even the bottom but certainly around the edges.
Social media should not be managed by marketing nor any other single discipline - we have spent a ton of time building a social media expertise that spans all of Ogilvy's disciplines from marketing to CRM to communications to customer care. Social media is as much about new behaviors as tools and platforms and it certainly isn't as simple as a new channel. No one group within the marcom mix can take full responsibility for it. Olivier makes a point that the most complete use of social media can best happen in the consumer/customer relations discipline. They do play a key and under-represented role. But every part of the business needs to embrace social media. Not just marketing and communications but product development, legal affairs, HR and more.
"10 Truths..." is a good post and Olivier makes important points we must all keep in mind, challenge and add our take to.