Social media - Bush fire or fire storm?

Wednesday 5, May 2010


Social media - Bush fire or fire storm?


A number of years ago I was deeply immersed in the evolution and early rapid growth of that world class airline – Cathay Pacific. Those of us who were working at that great company were so wrapped up in our own world and our own successes, that perhaps our orientation got a little unfocused.



A friend said, I thought unkindly at the time that we were so blinded by a green mist (the colour of the airline) that we had lost focus on some of the realities of commercial life.


So too perhaps with Social Media, the phrase and the component parts, FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, LinkedIn, Flickr, Delicious and all the foreign language versions seem to dominate marketing and distribution conversations, just as it seems that there is no world outside the Social Media fog and fog it is.


Sarcely two years old and growing like topsy, this tidal wave of data and comment has come out of nowhere and threatens to engulf conventional mechanisms and processes. While some question whether the Social Media phenomen can continue to hold sway and indeed wiser heads will argue that the marketing challenge of creating and then meeting a need has not changed, there is no doubt that at least short engagement with Social Media must be on the agenda of every serious marketing entity.


Social Media in essence is about engaging with the customer and using that engagement both to understand their needs and to create a brand relationship that will survive and endure.


Current experience points to ten keys concepts

  1. Use SM to engage with potential and current customers and use it to build brand loyalty. If the customer is talking to you, then you had better listen. One major hotel group recently tracked 1million mentions in a period of 2 weeks ~ their customers are talking.
  2. Be prepared: Don't start your SM journey without an opinion of what it can do for you or without the resources required to transact.
  3. It is not all positive, so preparation for negative events (the Twitter Storm) is a necessary part of the engagement. You may have no choice. The recent Nestle and KitKat event being an extreme example.
  4. Traditional marketing skills still apply, it is just moving faster. A lot faster, but it is easier to scale.
  5. Don't forget the offline world ~ it is still the majority of business, albeit declining rapidly. Make sure that both your on and offline strategies are integrated. Your customers' are!
  6. Recognise different personas in the same individual and set strategies accordingly. This is no different from the traditional world. Tim Hughes of describes this as the EveryYou ~ many versions of One
  7. Don't forget the search engines. Paid search is still the most effective means of gaining attention, it converts better and is not going away anytime soon
  8. Trial & Error ~ its not expensive, but you need to agile and listening carefully. Refine, refine, refine.
  9. Quality material makes a difference. Text, Images and Video. With so much material out there, you need to make a statement
  10. More than ever your brand is transparent to the customer. If you don't act up to your promise, they will see it. Engaging with SM calls for openness and sincerity.






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