September 20, 2012 \ Geoff Birmingham
Social media strategy

Twitter logoI attended another good roundtable discussion this morning with Sales and Marketing Executives International Boston (SMEI Boston). The main subject of the conversation today was how and why organizations struggle to integrate social media successfully into their marketing efforts. Here are several of the main nuggets gleaned from the conversation:

Tactics versus strategy. The consensus around the table was that too often, organizations are not thinking of the “big picture,” and instead are focused only on the tactics with social media. In other words, rather than looking at their overall marketing strategy and trying to understand how social media can fit into it, they concentrate more on the tactics – how to create a Facebook page, how to set up a YouTube channel, how to create a Twitter presence.

Young versus old. Part of the reason why there might be a greater tendency towards tactics rather than strategy is because very often the social media work is delegated to the younger folks within an organization, who are comfortable using the tools. But even though they might know all the ins and outs of using Facebook, the youngsters don’t have the business and marketing experience to use the tools effectively.

Lack of metrics. Everyone agreed that very few companies are analyzing properly the metrics of their social media efforts, if they are doing it at all. If they are gathering information, it’s typically soft data – “How many views did we get on YouTube?” – rather than understanding how their audience is moving from their social media channels and ultimately to a sale or, in the case of nonprofits, a donation.

Lack of good content. Too often, the information that companies and organizations are sharing through their social media channels is not compelling to their audience.

The need for change management. All of this lead to the conclusion that the successful integration of social media into marketing efforts requires an investment of resources rather than a quick fix. To achieve this, change management might be needed within a company or organization – the marketers must reset the thinking of the senior level folks on what is required to ensure that their social media endeavors lead to sales or donations.