In 2010 Social Media Marketing will Mature or YOU will Fail

The Focus of Marketing

I’m a practitioner.  I live off my marketing skills.  Presently I work in a B2B environment marketing consulting & customized services to healthcare organizations.  I have completely embraced social media for professional networking.  But, I have not done so for marketing purposes, yet.

The main reason is that my target audience is not there.  A secondary reason is that I prioritize other tactics, as I simply do not have an unlimited budget.  Finally, because while there are good case studies on social media, the ROI is still unclear in my field, while the competing priorities are paying off dividends.  So while I’ve dabbled in it, I’ve relegated most of my social media use to professional networking.

Don’t get me wrong!  I love social media as a communication platform.  I do believe it is a disruptive technology.  But as a marketing strategist, I believe that it’s over hyped and that even those classified as “best in class” – in my opinion – are more “entertaining” and experimental (and rapidly becoming me too) than strategically centered marketing.

Take for example the Evian babies.  The most watched YouTube video for 2009.  Many marketers, including reputable marketing publications, point to that as “best in class” in social media.  I’m sure it won many awards.  It generated tons of exposure and impressions.  They are cute.  It’s entertaining.  But did it sell more water? 

It is that type of pseudo-marketing the Zyman killed at Coca-Cola.  Marketing is not about ENTERTAINMENT.  It’s about “selling more stuff to more people more often for more money more efficiently.”

The 2009 Financial Hangover

Kotler calls the fall out of the 2008-2009 world crisis the “New Normal,” turbulent market conditions punctuated by unpredictable uncertainty (I’m currently writing this book review for publication which I’ll post here in the next 60 days).  This has caused us to be fiscally paranoid.  2010 will bring continued scrutiny on our marketing budgets.

Data, analytics and results will be critical for any marketer wanting to keep his/her budget or job.  A couple of key questions to consider:

§         Is your segment still accurate?

§         Are you moving your segment along the buying continuum?

§         Are your meeting your reach & frequency requirements?

§         Are you making data-based decisions and trade-offs?

There are entire books on marketing analytics, but these questions are a good start.  Unless your social media plans deliver on your key metrics, you should eliminate them.  The period of experimentation is over.  Your social media needs to produce hard results or you should seek other tactics to meet your objectives. 

There are hundreds of companies doing social media right, I just see more abuse than not.

Social Media will Grow Up

Case study on “how not to”: The over hype reminds me of the year 1999.  The internet was HOT.  Web pages were the “new, new thing.”  While working on a billion dollar brand, we rushed to partner with a company to build semi-custom web sites for our customers.  We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for 3-year services for a number of websites.  At first the program seemed like a success, with hundreds of highly valued customers signing on and our company seen as progressive and value-add.  After 9 months, maybe a dozen of our sites were maintained, updated or marginally utilized.  We bought the over hype!  We jumped too fast, we did not build a solid strategy, and we failed in this initiative.  But we grew up and so will social media.

As I was writing this blog, I received a great e-mail from Marketing Profs.  It’s right on with their observations and it also illustrates nicely how social media is growing up.  Based on a survey of over 5,000 marketers, here are their top line observations:

1.      Social media strategy is more important than tactics/gimmicks.

2.      It’s not a one size fits all game.

3.      Map your social media plans to your strategy.

4.      All media is becoming social.

I would recommend you look into their blog.  I have added it to my blogroll if you’re interested.

It takes discipline to do social media right.  BUT THAT’S NOT DIFFERENT THAN ANYTHING ELSE YOU SHOULD BE ALREADY DOING.  2010 will not be a year of experimentation.  Social media will grow up and you should position your company to leverage this incredible marketing tool, if it makes strategic sense.  Just don’t buy the over hype or do so at your own risk.

Good marketing!



4 thoughts on “In 2010 Social Media Marketing will Mature or YOU will Fail”

  1. Great comments Andrew and nice blog!

    I see your point – my only stance is that eventually, social media has to be monetized for companies to invest over the long-term – beyond the initial hype.

  2. What an excellent blog post. As a business owner of an advertising and marketing company, I understand the effectiveness of social media and the power it has to reach out to segmented audiences that would otherwise be harder to communicate to.

    I completely agree with you that social media is maturing and I think it will continue to change as technology increases and the avenues to advertise and market broaden. However, I do not agree with the idea that marketing is about “selling more stuff.” In order to sell anything, you need an established brand and some sort of trust between your brand and your consumers. One of the most effective ways to build brand awareness is via social media. Personally, I think that social media is a great place to start the long walk of branding and it can prove to be a a very valuable tool in not only growing a business, but also establishing loyal consumers who trust your products or services.

    For more information about social media and its branding power, check out my blog post “Optimize Your Social Media Marketing Strategy” on my blog page.

    Excellent post and thank you for the information!


  3. Interesting post. Thanks for sharing. I agree that social media is maturing fast and has to be harnessed as part of a strategy and not regarded as a magic bullet. It’s never simply a case of “build it and they will come” as that’s going to be an inevitable fail.

    I do challenge your assertion that marketing is about “selling more stuff to more people more often for more money more efficiently”. The ultimate goal is not always to make more money. You might be promoting a not-for-profit organisation or opening a public sector channel for instance, neither of which are about making money but rather about nurturing your image.

    It’s imperative that marketeers do not underestimate the power of brand building. If you can increase trust and build some genuine open-ness into your customer relations then you are putting down foundations which will endure and may well lead to increased sales but may just as equally lead to a bit of brand loyalty which is part of a much longer game.

    1. Barry, thank you for your comment!

      I accept your position on “it’s not always to make more money.” Good point!

      Having said that, I do volunteer extensively for a non-profit organization, so I have some marketing experience in that sector. I’d like to make 2 points: 1. In our non-for-profit we do care about nurturing a brand image. Absolutely! We have many competitors and the product is the organization. 2. I also believe that if it’s not about “selling more” it should have a definite goal (like get more volunteers, reach more people, secure more donations, etc..). Else marketing looses focus and efficacy.

      Just my 2 cents from my experience, though my primary focus is commercial marketing. Thanks again for engaging in the discussion!

      Ramiro Roman

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