July 17th, 2012 by Tim Greenhalgh
Shel Israel was gracious and kind in his Twitter response to my post on his wake-up call to professionals who ply their trade through social media – â€˜Will Marketing Muck Up Social Media?â€™
I think itâ€™s worth restating the basic ideas around social media engagement, in the light of his post and my, perhaps too comfortable, rebuttal. To recap, Shel writes that his recent experience is of a strategic change in marketing that now seeks to fully control social media campaigns.
This would be achieved by regressive tactics: one-way messaging, retreat from conversation, closer alignment with offline campaigns â€¦ a return to shouting at potential customers.
There is no technical obstacle in current social media platforms to this regression â€“ merely the nature and current cultural norms that dominate these means of communication.
For sure, social media (which I accept as a febrile concept, an adjunct to web evolution) could be reshaped commercially but that action would destroy every practical, productive and creative element.
At Liberate Media, we use a range of top-level explanations to help strategic discussions with clients who want to learn more about this evolving means of communication.
The basic ideas that inform the way we work in social media echo these explanations and please tell me if you think they have changed recently.
Commercial engagement in social media starts with LLEGS:
Listen to whatâ€™s being said online about the brand, product or solution.
Learn about the people saying it, the value of their ideas, where and how they are engaging.
Engage with these people, start conversations, build networks of influence around them.
Give as much as you can in the form of new knowledge.
Share freely your insights, and those of others, in the network and beyond.
The elements together form a virtuous circle and the benefits should be a more acute, evolving understanding of customers/clients.
Colleague Lloyd Gofton has a better handle on this than me and his recent eConsultancy post on â€˜Earned Mediaâ€™ takes the discussion to a whole new level. Itâ€™s worth a full read but I took one key point that resonated:
â€œTruly understanding what people want, and fulfilling that need must be a simpler path to success than telling customers your product is the best, and ignoring all feedback to the contrary to maintain some imagined brand reputation.â€
Perhaps the regressive marketing movement identified by Shel Israel is motivated by a lacuna between fundamental desire to engage and a lack of tools to provide combinative management of marketing strategies and tactics.
It may also be a function of the enduring presence of corporate silos, which are anathema to the open ideology of social media.
The tools should be developed and they should have the power to break down the corporate silos that are so clearly a block on rapid material progress.
And I hope that the understandable fears of social media among strategic marketing professionals will be replaced by an intensely creative period where new marketing forms will work within a more coherent global marketing culture.