Making sense of it all – Part 2: the marketer

You can find part 1 of this blog entry here.

Wasn’t it nice in the days before social media, when communications could be put into little campaigns, all neat and tidy? Sure, we had customer care and sales that had a kind of ongoing conversation with the client, but, on the whole, we controlled when and how we communicated with our customers and leads. It was much easier then, with our plans and our schedules.

Too Much Social Media

Image from Flickr - credit to Kexino (

Okay, I’m still being facetious, but this lack of control over the communication of our brand, and the sheer volume of activity that social media networks generate, can catch marketing departments unaware. Unlike traditional marketing activity, this is a real-time conversation, a non-stop campaign that’s already started.

The good news is that it is manageable and there are some easy steps we can take.

1. Treat Social Media with the same attention to detail as all other channels
It all starts here – don’t treat social media as an afterthought. It’s been done before and the results are usually bad. Not convinced? Check out ‘Social Media screw ups – a history’ then come back. Social media should be considered as a core part of the marketing strategy and should tie in to business objectives – it’s just the day to day mechanics of communication that are different to more traditional marketing techniques.

2. Understand your Social Media landscape
Tracking your social media exposure is extremely difficult without the right toolset. 2010 saw an explosion in the number and quality of the tools available, from Hootsuite to Radian6, both of which monitor multiple social media sites and networks. Here at Volume we use our own internal tool (SociView), but whichever you choose, the important thing is to use one. Good tools will provide you with the means to monitor, respond and analyse your brand online; giving you the data you need to create effective strategies

3. Understand the limitations of what you can do
Once you see the amount of information online, you’ll quickly realise that controlling every word is an impossible task. Relax, this is the way it should be, and there’s no point worrying about it. The days of total control are gone, and with it the old marketing mindset. Use your tools to map and separate the official (your blogs and feeds), the unofficial (partners, affiliates, fans and brand-enemies) and the temporary (bad and good experiences looking for an outlet). Start listening and filtering the noise, then you’ll know when you can…

4. …be a part of the conversation
And it is a conversation, we can’t rely on the same set of skills we use for one-way communication. The people we choose to represent us should be selected carefully. When you have the chance to get involved, acting the right way is paramount and can stop bad situations escalating unnecessarily. If someone’s happy with you, by all means retweet them, but make sure you stay humble and polite – acknowledge that you’re getting a helping hand. If someone’s unhappy, make sure that you deal with it with the same level of attention – admit your mistakes and learn from them.

We can see this approach already being adopted by Dell – ready converts to the social media space, who have had their fair share of “learning experiences” along the way – when they announced the setup of a dedicated ‘social media listening centre’ to manage the 22,000 Dell-related posts every day.

Although a lot of us won’t be dealing with quite that much, putting the right people and tools in place will help you to stay in control and, hopefully, make sense of it all.

Agree or disagree with my point of view? – I’m happy to discuss, so please post your comments.


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