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SASCon Minutes – Who is Best Positioned to Exploit Social Media Opportunities
This post follows up from my summary of the SASCon search and social media panel. For this discussion, panellists Paul Fabretti from Gabba, Judith Lewis, Will McInnes from Nixon McInnes, Massimo Burgio from Global Search Interactive and James Lowery from Latitude debated which companies would be best positioned to get the most out of social media. Once again, I have tried to make the best transcription of what was said so if any panellists feel I have misquoted them or not given a true representation of what they intended to say then please leave a comment or drop me a message on Twitter and I’ll be happy to correct the post.
Q: Who is Best to Exploit Social Media Opportunities?
PF: PR, SEO, design and build must all integrate otherwise there’s no point. For example would you build links to something that isnt worth seeing?
JaL: The companies who should use social media are those who need feedback – companies who understand why they need to engage with people.
WM: I don’t know. Should we expect people to know what they need to do? Companies come to us with a question mark. For example a solution for a government department would be very different to than it would be for a fizzy drinks company. Everyone should own responsibility – business goals and strategy are most important.
JuL: Search and Social media are intimately together and should not be seen as separate entities. It’s about exploitation, seeing technologies that work and then using them – otherwise it’s about engagement. Any company which is large enough to have a media team should have a social media presence and everyone within the company should be given guidelines on how to utilise it.
PF: There are different uses for social media e.g CRM & comms are used bring out what the company is about. Not everyone should have a social media voice. For example people on the shop floor have different responsibilities to those working on the comms team.
MB: Work out your internal goals for different departments – eg. HR, sales, distribution – then decide on your priorities and decide on your strategy and targeting from there.
WM: Decide whether you are looking to amplify & distribute media or whether you are looking to ‘tell a story’. Worries about the language used in the question as brands are built using stories, whereas search agencies go for rankings. There’s a tension between the two and he feels Search sees Social Media as a trick to leverage traffic from.
JaL: You need to leverage customers.
PF: Search is shallow as it just makes something visible. It needs to be worth seeing in the first place and requires a fully integrated approach. Search and Social Media are distinct but agencies who combine the two will succeed.
Q: Where do you start?
PF: You need to reflect and decide why do it in the first place. Don’t do it out of fear of missing the boat. At the same time don’t do it half baked – you should spend 3-4 weeks looking at conversations as the message you want to communicate must be relevant.
JaL: The person in the organisation responsible for social media should be the person who is closest linked to the goal. e.g Virgin trains might want social media linked to custemer services.
JuL: It depends on your goals – do you need ANOTHER facebook app? What can you measure at the end of the campaign – it’s important that you have a measurable outcome.
Q: Regarding ‘storytelling’ – successful campaigners will tap into an emotional response. What process will cover that?
WM: Difficult to say – closest method is to try classical creative techniques to tell stories, like the old advertising agencies used. Consider the brand story.
MB: More important to harness Social Media in case of a reputation management crisis. Unfortunately it might take a crisis for this to happen.
Q: Political parties – does their social media presence reflect the strength of their brand or can it change it?
PF: It’s important to find the right approach to the right audience – this will improve mentions.
JaL: It fails where the message isn’t authentically delivered as the community will subvert it e.g Conservative party posters, #CleggsFault.
WM: Obama had a £970million marketing budget and the potential to be the country’s first black president so he had lots to work with already.
PF: If the story isn’t true then you are going to get found out.
JuL: If you deliver your message in a genuine way it will work no matter whether you’re large or small.
MB: Obama campaign worked because the USA is flooded by social media – it was the right market at the right time.
WM: Product is the new marketing – e.g Apple.
JuL: Agrees with will that it is important to be very product focussed.
Q: Have you ever been asked to work with a client who you have then gone on to tell them ‘you aren’t ready’?
PF: Jokes that the question is the social media equivalent to asking an SEO ‘do you buy links’?
MB: Greenpeace are a good with social media because people are passionate about them. It is easier if you can marketing to something that can leverage passion.
PF: Apple/Dyson have great products but do they have the ability to communicate that? It’s harder for bigger companies to do that.
WM: It’s most appealing to work with organisations who have the biggest problems.