This week, Holly Brown, Chief Innovation Officer of R2 Integrated (and former strategist for MRM Worldwide, Ogilvy and Mather, Microsoft and Disney) offered insights at Seattle's Social Media Breakfast on a burning marketing challenge: in the age of social networking and peer recommendations being valued over that of corporate representatives, how is a well-intentioned brand supposed to communicate with its fans and detractors? That is, how and where is a brand supposed to engage?
It was a packed event, and I'm happy to say that Brown shied away from easy answers, tips, tricks and tools. Instead, she focused on insightful questions that marketers can use to determine the best approach for their brand. My best takeaways:
The state of the social web
- Marketers are facing now the same issues in the new social media space as when the internet was new: who, what and how to engage there.
- A shift has occurred in marketing; so let's acknowledge it. Companies used to control the message. With social media, customers control the message.
- The web is a buying engine, and communities of interest (such as forums, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, etc.) are where the action is.
- What is unique about social networks in comparison to the original internt (Web 1.0) is that the create a situation allowing for serendipitous discovery of information.
Configuring an engagement strategy
- When determining which communities of interest to engage in, the number one qualifier should be the relevance of discussion and participation happening therein. "Fish where the fish are."
- Social Media is integral and foundational; it's not to be tacked on to an existing strategy. Social media participation is the hub not the spoke.
- And if you're not convinced yet, the best idea for having research and a rationale for your engagement strategy: in the marketing world, solid rational equals budget.
- Many ask how to build community. Don't. Don't "build community;" instead figure out how to become an invited guest in the social space.
And Brown's final word of advice: when you implement, keep in mind that automated tools can't do everything. Measurement is all well and good, but there is no replacement for getting into the community, listening and engaging to make qualitative decisions and evaluations.
Missed it and want to hear more? Listen to Holly's podcast interview here, or her slide deck below: