<< by on June 23rd, 2009
There are so many social media applications (or trees in the social media forest), how can you keep on track? Don’t cloud your objectives just to do the next new thing. The next panel, moderated by Jason Heller of Laredo Group, featured Ian Schafer of Deep-Focus, Shiv Singh of Razorfish, Denise Sposato of H&R Block, and Don Steele of MTV Networks Entertainment Group.
Are you still seeing knee-jerk reactions to social media tactics? A focus on tactic vs. objective?
Ian said folks still want to get started with social media. Odds are, if you’re consuming digital media, you are likely consuming some form of social media as well. Social media is where media is going — what platforms can be leveraged? What strategies can be utilized?
Shiv said they see that at Razorfish. They have two main types of clients with social media:
- Those that have been through 1-2 iterations of social media. Is this helping my business? Can it work with our current marketing mix and be integrated?
- Those that want pure social strategy. They missed or skipped the social craze but are asking “what are we missing by not being part of it?”
How did H&R Block get started with social media?
Denise said they launched the community in Jan. 2008 as a place to inform and entertain, but they may have been too entertaining. They quickly learned that people wanted expertise about taxes, so they had to adapt and make it more of an education site. The blogs are now written in consumer-friendly speak by tax experts. Traffic was also helped by big tax questions such as the AMT issue, so people were hungry for information.
The community also enabled them to get the word out that H&R Block has online products too. The site has been evolving ever since.
Is it easier to get budget for social media now?
Denise said that many were not supportive of social media, but they did get the budget. Their budget resides in marketing, even though it really touches many areas of the company.
Don said that at MTV Networks, they saw that after a South Park episode, they would see about 15,000 tweets. They were able to show executives where the conversation and dialogue is happening.
Shiv said that when he put the social media tactics into the marketing funnel, marketers are able to relate to it better.
In the interdisciplinary nature of social media, what do you find is the most common objective?
Ian said that a Twitter account may be the easiest to get started with, but it does grow and become very important and transparent. He starts the conversation with clients by doing an audit — who have you been? who are you? who do you want to be? Once you understand that, social media tactics will take shape. It’s a highly custom approach. He’s seeing budgets grow to incorporate more.
Shiv said that they evangleize how it fits into the world of social influence for the long term. We’re more influenced by everyday people than advertising. Social media allows us a way to reach those social influencers in a way we could not in the past.
Don said that Twitter is just the way we communicate — it’s immediate. But it also trails on for weeks after as it gets passed along. It may be really hot today in NYC, but it may be hot in two weeks in Baltimore.
Will social media help companies make better products? Is this a fundamental shift in the way businesses operate?
Denise said it has. It has forced them to listen and act on behalf of customers instead of the company telling them what they want and how they want it delivered.
Ian said that companies have to adapt to grow and pay attention to customers. Social media will happen to you and you’ll have to respond, or you’ll evolve and embrace it. Those that are able to change and adapt (ala Darwin) will survive.
Shiv said that social media was going on in other forms for years.. it’s a transition to a new way of doing things. Shiv thinks that the tipping point will be when social media is separated by customer service, marketing, etc. and really address each area. Right now, the jury is still out.
What was your biggest learning experience with social media so far that you made actionable?
Denise said it was lack of staff bandwidth. The cost to get in is low, but the human capital cost can be very high. They also did not realize at first how quickly they needed to change and adapt.
Don’s biggest frustration and fear is that there is a new “bright, shiny thing” in the room every 6-12 months.