Advertisers lost control of the media years ago when the internet gave all the target audiences the power to run their own message delivery systems. I’m not sure we had fully recovered from that peaceful revolution when another gigantic wave hit us, then another and another: Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, Yelp, Foursquare, and on and on.
The whole Social Media thing can be very confusing which partly explains the problems some companies are experiencing with it. Consider a prospective client we visited a few weeks ago. They showed us their website, some of their Twitter and Facebook work and mentioned interests in Pinterest and LinkedIn. I asked about their overall strategy, especially as it relates to acquiring new customers and communicating with the customers they already have. They looked at me as if I’d asked them to explain Unified Field Theory. After a little gentle probing, I learned the company’s Social Media marketers work in silos:
- The Facebook people don’t send prospects to the company’s website; they offer products right on Facebook.
- The Twitter Group is trying to increase followers by chasing their target market through hashtag (#) searches.
- The people in charge of the website don’t capture prospect information because they can’t.
- Nobody in the company is working to create real gold: a prospect and customer database.
When I got back to the office, I started to develop a theory: Big companies have the Social Media thing under control, medium and small companies don’t.
I figured the big guys had the resources and management discipline to make Social Media work. And, of course, it would be planned around the basic objective of all businesses which is “To Get & Keep Customers”.
Naturally, being a direct marketer, I tested the theory and when I did I almost fell off my chair.
The test started with Twitter and a short list of obvious major companies off the top of my head: 3M, Coke, Pepsi, Budweiser.
- @3M exists, has 400 followers and has never tweeted.
- There’s a squatter sitting on @Coke but
- @Pepsi has over a million followers.
- On the other hand, @Cocacola has 600,000+ followers and posts alternate English and Spanish tweets.
- There’s a squatter on @Budweiser.
- Whoever owns @Bud has been suspended.
- @BudLight? Another squatter.
How about hashtags
Oh my goodness. Search #3M and you discover that the company has all kinds of Twitter accounts, like: 3@M_SkinWound, 3@Minnovation,3@M_Infection. It’s like a secret world with its own code.
#Cocacola? Every language under the sun, confusing.
So much for my theory. It took me 30 seconds to learn that a lot of big businesses do not have this thing nailed down yet.
Well, some do. Ford, for instance. They have a brilliant and complex Social Media strategy revolving around the Millenials (roughly the children and grandchildren of baby boomers).
Bottom line? In almost no time, I found companies working in silos, sometime at cross purposes, confusion about basic company names, languages, objectives. And that’s just Twitter. Most of them are better at Facebook but I get the impression that companies of all sizes are not taking Social Media seriously yet, at least not seriously enough to develop a coherent plan with Background, Objectives, Strategy, Metrics. They seem to have zoomed past all that to Tactics which, like children, are all of the fun and none of the responsibility.
I hope that somewhere in every company, someone’s thinking about the essence of business. In the meantime, I’m working on new theory. What is your and how is social media working for your company?
This article was originally published on www.forbes.com