Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of hosting AdweekMedia Connects’s weekly chat. The subject? What else? Social media. We had folks from agencies — PR, advertising, integrated, and digital — all over the world join for an hour-long discussion. And while these things are usually out of control, we managed to keep it somewhat focused.
Here’s a recap of the conversation. It’s not quantitative research; just what marketers who are thinking about this stuff have to say.
There are still many challenges for brands
For those of us who live in the space, it’s easy to forget that most brands and marketers have yet to show up. Some in this chat related that, “It’s a challenge for many clients just deciding whether to participate in social media at all.” More than a few brands think they should get into social, but still consider it merely a means to “market themselves,” rather than a way to join the conversation. As a result they approach it wrong, if at all. Others struggle with how many resources (people, hours, money) they should commit to something they don’t really understand yet requires a lot of time. And finally, many simply can’t break old habits and expectations that have been honed on years of pushing out messages in paid media.
Fear of losing control remains an issue
We can all make the argument that there’s a conversation going on whether you’re there or not. We can point out Mad Men and Coca Cola , two brands that have let go, allowing consumers to create content and become a voice for the brand. But a lot of clients are still petrified. “Fear’s a big factor with my clients.” “Loss of control is a concern.” I can tell you I’ve run into the same reaction with some of my clients even after showing them negative comments and discussion that are already out there in part because of their absence. Seems we still have a ways to go on this front.
You have to use it to get it
This is a big one for agencies and clients. You can’t get social media it until you use it. No number of Powerpoint presentations, or charts, or growth rates, or user numbers can convince a reluctant brand of the value of social media. Nor can all the decks and data get anyone from a marketing agency to understand how to sell, advise or counsel a client on how to use social media. The best thing agencies can do for themselves is get out there: on the content sites, the networks, on Tumblr and Ning. Everyone needs to experiment, learn, try things, build a following, fail, recover. “The more you use the tools, the better you will be at incorporating then into your communications programs.”
What do CMOs need?
First and foremost: strategic intelligence. Some expressed the opinion that social media has to be done internally, so CMOs need to build teams and use agencies as consultants. Others argued that CMOs will need to build strategic partnerships among multiple agencies (easier said than done) in order to get best of breed SEO, PR, social, blog outreach, technology and branding. Some think it will all become one thing eventually. I’m still of the thought that the best agencies in the future will harbor all the capabilities, from branding to public relations to social media to user experience, or at least create seamless alliances with partners. Otherwise there will be no synergies or efficiencies across a marketing program.
Metrics, measurement, monetization
Finally, we touched on how to measure and what to measure. Clients want the metrics. But the fact is with all the moving parts, no one, from Radian6 to Techrigy to agencies themselves have mastered tools that can perfectly assess quantitative (clicks, followers, links), qualitative (feelings, thoughts, opinions), and the holy grail itself (sales). So there weren’t a lot of answers, just more questions.
Here are three other questions that I never got to ask. Feel free to answer any that you can.
Is it possible for brands and marketers to actually integrate their offline, online, mobile and social efforts so that they amplify each other?
Does creativity, originality, being inventive matter in social media?
How important is it for marketers and agency types to build their personal brand and social media presence?