Social Media … The Marketing Campaign is Dead

By Sue Cash, Analytics & Insights Manager, Resonate Solutions

Having spent the first 10 years of my career working in Direct Marketing, I am well versed in the idea of marketing as a campaign.

The process is:

  • Client briefs agency “we need to sell 2,000 mortgages this quarter”
  • Creative staff work on the design and data planners work back from that 2,000 figure (with expected response rates and conversion rates) to identify how many prospects need to be contacted/exposed to the ad.  If they are more sophisticated, they will have data (triggers, profiles and predictive models) to help them identify the best prospects
  • Campaign is launched and after a period of time, the number of new mortgages is calculated
  • The agency can calculate the ROI from the campaign and then rest easy with a G&T at the nearest swanky bar

No matter how strategic they think they are being with their customer centric vision and objectives to grow customer value, the campaigns always boil down to selling products in silos (with different product managers often competing for the same prospect pool) and ROI is calculated for each campaign individually. This is due to nature of the client’s business with product managers, different business units for different products and KPIs set at the product level.

This campaign driven and product silo world is the ultimate in control for brand communications.  We decide when we communicate, what we communicate and to whom we communicate. Any response from the prospect is only in the form of a query or a purchase. There is no room for a conversation that could take months, for peer support or advice or any consideration for the real needs of the prospect.  We told you about our product, you did/did not buy it, job done!

Enter Social Media.  Oh dear.

The world is tipped upside down. The campaign is dead. Customers now have equal control and can chat to you (and each other) about anything, anytime.  I won’t even attempt to write a step by step approach to managing Social Media because it would look more like a Stephen Hawkins experiment than a useful diagram.

This is a great opportunity to brands that know what they are doing.  Compared to traditional campaigns, Social Media is incredibly flexible, fast and interactive.  For those data planners out there, your life is not over … it can produce invaluable data that can be fed into triggers, profiling, models and segmentations.  It can also provide key insights into your products/services – no need for expensive focus groups.

However, this opportunity can soon evolve into a huge threat if Social Media is not taken seriously.  Employing a 21 year old self-confessed Facebook/Twitter addict to run your Facebook Page is at best paying lip service to Social Media and at worst marketing suicide.  You are not only exposing your brand to huge risks but this youngster is simply not experienced enough to harness the power of this new marketing channel.  Imagine allowing a new graduate to manage your e-commerce/online banking channel …unthinkable.

I’m sad to say that many brands are using inexperienced staff to manage their communities, especially when it is completely avoidable. There is a fast growing group of people out there with years of community management experience – agency and client side.

My advice would be to select the most experienced person in your marketing department and ensure they are well trained in Social Media (so they can train the others); or outsource to an experienced agency/consultant. Either way, the community manager’s training needs to be kept up to date because it is a fast moving industry.

Have you given your Facebook community to a senior Marketing Executive and reaped the rewards?  Help to spread the word!

Sue Cash is the Analytics & Insights Manager at Resonate Solutions.

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