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Social is dead, hurray for customer contact!

Written by: Uri Roos November 2, 2012  

Social media is much more than just click, like and win. Social was introduced as a game changer. No longer did you have to pay to be in contact with an audience that likes you. But the more we gave the monopoly of this relationship to networks such as Facebook and Twitter, the more we fell back into the old pattern of mass media marketing. With over 1 billion people, the reach of Facebook is the epitome of mass media. What’s left of the great social revolution?

While social media marketing is becoming an integral part of C2C marketing strategies something strange has happened. The big social networks optimize their advertising revenue streams while brands try to maximize fans´ loyalty. The problem is that both parties want to optimize their results using the wrong KPI’s. Social is more than marketing and marketing is more than building a fan base. In the past 10 years, many networks have come and gone. Many billions have been invested by brands in networks such as, MySpace, Bebo and Hyves. They rose up and disappeared again and with it the promise of a real dialogue disappeared.

A real relationship with your customer beyond the checkout is harder than a sponsored story or tweet. Creating real brand ambassadors is much more complex than buying advertorials. To truly be social you must focus on the core question of your brand; why does my (potential) customer like me? Is it because I’m low-cost or very desired? Is it because I’m healthy or just a delicious snack? And do I sell hair straighteners or the promise to be desired?

The KPI’s of social media should be realigned to match the strategic objectives of the mother company. Social provides customers, vendors and employees a way to talk to each other; a dialogue. This dialogue was much more difficult and expensive before the rise of the internet. Because it was so difficult, brands would often use third parties to take care of their channels and messages. In addition, feedback was also obtained from other companies, like market research firms. With so many different parties and money involved, there is much resistance to really change the way we work.

As nobody has a monopoly on dialogue, you can therefore not restrict what people are talking about. Just like a real relationship, you must talk about subjects your partner is interested in. Even when this means you have to talk about difficult issues. Who knows, you might learn something.

The promise of social is not over or death. Mobile is the next opportunity for more direct communication, regardless of time and place. Subsequently the opportunity will arise to target, retarget and ultimately engage through every classic media channel. Think about services such as interactive TV, eBooks, streaming music and more. This calls for a radical change of expertise, structure and way of communication.

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