An Introduction to Social Media and Social Media Marketing

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by: Scott Goodson

I have had several people ask me to re-post the StrawberryFrog white paper our strategic group wrote earlier this year on social media. Since then we have created several other campaigns including the Agent Provocateur luxury fashion brand/online retailer social media campaign and the work for Scion a division of Toyota. So we have garnished some important learnings.

What is social media marketing?

Social Media Marketing is the act of a brand spreading its message through various social technologies. Right now, it’s a failed concept because brands are limited in their approach to social media marketing; they engage in practices that are alienating to users, and do not provide useful services for consumers.

What are the opportunities of social media?

Social media is part of the same "sharing" meme that has brought us the open-source movement, open APIs, Wikipedia and other examples of mass collaboration. An opportunity exists for "sharing" to penetrate into new areas of society and business via new innovations in social media. Opportunities also exist in the creation of new business models in which companies "outsource" tasks (i.e. marketing, R&D) to consumers. There are also opportunities for brands to develop new online social structures that complement those already found offline and also opportunities to monitor, control and influence reputation on the Web.

How has social media changed marketing and communications?

Social media has changed the balance of power between marketers and consumers. Consumers now have the power, not marketers. Once marketers release their messages "into the wild," they no longer have as much control over what happens to that message. Instead, consumer ecosystems have the power. Marketing + Communications is no longer a "broadcast" or "mass media" model. Consumers expect a dialogue with marketers, and reward those companies that subscribe to this philosophy.

How should a major consumer brand use Social Media? What are some practical tips for senior marketing management?

Social Media falls between the cracks inside many consumers’ brands because it is so new and it is not funded properly. Inside the major corporate agencies, they are just getting their heads around the web and haven’t event started to understand this medium, nor how they can make money off of it. StrawberryFrog believes that a consumer brand should maximize this new marketing tool by being a pioneer, a leader in this area. Here are some practical steps to achieve this.

StrawberryFrog Case Study: Scion Speak

Step 1. Define the ‘Social Strategy’ for your brand.
Many social networking marketing activities fail because they do not define the social strategy ahead of executional concepts. Below are our tips on how to develop a social media marketing strategy with examples from our case study on Scion.

a) Define the key social behaviors of your target online – where are they socializing?

What are the social habits, (e.g. Forester has social networking consumer profile segments such as Critics, Spectators, Sharers etc) on line?
There are also differences in usage by demographics and lifestage. You’ve got a few groups of people heavily active in social media on a daily basis. Sixty-seven percent of young adults visit their social networking site once a day or more – these are people who are on their computers all day (20s to mid 30 somethings; folks with lower to mid level positions) and people with time to kill (high school, college students). These are also people who feel isolated and often the social networking sites become a central to their life online – looking for friends, finding events, and meeting new people. Social behavior online also changes as we age, older adult users use networking to stay in touch with existing friends and family.
For Scion, the target audience was ‘Creatives’ – they use social networking tools as a means to express and showcase their creativity and individuality among their peers.

b) Identify your brand’s social behavior and objective in the social space – how should it socialize with your target? What is the brand’s primary purpose in the social network? Facilitating self-expression? Listening? What is it’s role at this social party and what useful tools can it create to facilitate this?
One of Scion’s key values is customization. Therefore, Scion had to bring these tools for passionate self-expression to social party. This was identified as the brand’s role in the social context.

STEP 2. Create social media content, don’t advertise on it. If you’re not providing content, ensure you are providing a useful service.
If you look at what Social Media does, it helps people with a certain aspect of their lives. And that is managing their social life. It ENABLES them to DO something they are already interested in. It GIVES them the tools to allow for this. Social media provides a service – information, connection points, etc. Brands are often interrupting that message. They need to figure out how NOT to do that. How to either become part of the service, provide their own service or just limit their level of annoyance on the playground. I’ll listen to your marketing message if you’re providing me a service. Because people aren’t interested in advertising per se – they are only interested in what it can do for them. Call it utilitainment, interactive digital or whatever you want, your brand idea has purpose.
This is exactly what we’ve done for Scion. We created ‘Scionspeak’ a social networking tool that provides a platform and a new visual language that allows Scion owners to meet and communicate with each other in the online and real world. Scionspeak is a virtual language of design symbols that that Scion owners can use to express themselves online and on their customized vehicles. For example, Scionspeak symbols can tell others what kind of music your’re into, what type of relationship you’re in and where you’re from. No two personal Scionspeak emblems will be the same. Scionspeak facilitates social interaction in the online and real world. The social networking content also fulfills Scion’s core brand promise of providing a platform for customization and self-expression for its brand owners.

Social marketing DON’TS

1) Don’t violate the rules of social media
Often marketers and brands violating basic rules of social media. For Facebook no matter how targeted the message (or fancy or clever), it was still going to cause a revolt because Facebook wasn’t meant as a platform for marketing – it had a 100% social purpose. Brands and advertisers constantly forget this in their desperation to chase “consumers” down every dark alley and try and corner them into submission.
With Scion, we ensured that we developed this site in collaboration with the Scion enthusiast audience. In fact, we used some of the leaders of the existing online Scion communities to help us to develop the Scion design language. We also ensured that this brand site was designed for purely social and expressive purposes and did not feel like a corporate or money generating venture.

2) Don’t duplicate established social communities– if your audience is using a strongly established community (i.e. recipe sharing), why re-create a duplicate, marketing based branded version of the same community? Why would your target leave the existing community for a branded version of the same offer?
There are hundreds of existing Scion communities and socializing sites online. We knew from the start that we had to create a totally new kind of social tool for Scion owners to be a relevant and frequently used social tool.

3) Don’t hijack consumer’s social networks
One of the failures of Facebook marketing was that it hijacked the existing culture of the community. At the least marketers should be invited into the social culture, but even better marketers should create its own culture that consumers want to join. They should also be mindful of forcing friends to endorse products among their peers. Users should be voluntary brand ambassadors, not an enforced sales force.


What is the future of Facebook?
Over the long term, it’s hard to believe that the phenomenal growth of Facebook is sustainable. It is up to Facebook to continually innovate in order to ensure that it is not a fad. Certainly, the inherent social networking functionality that Facebook represents is not a fad. If you look at all the big Internet players (Google, IAC, Yahoo, Microsoft), it looks like each one has a unique viewpoint of what the future of this social networking functionality should look like.

What social media tools are working well?

Tagging (via – it’s easy, cheap and infinitely flexible. It helps me organize all kinds of content for all kinds of projects and is accessible wherever I go. People like these lightweight, flexible applications. I am also a fan of Google Social which enables you to connect to all social media easily. having great relationships with Google, we can bring Goole to the table as a partner in a new social media venture. In the future, information will become more meaningful, more automatic and more tailored to each of us. Web sites will transform into Web services. The "open API" will become the de facto standard for tech companies.
What’s the longer term future for social media?

Taking a big picture view, we’ve reached an interesting inflection point in the history of the Internet. Last month, China and the U.S. reached parity in the number of overall Internet users, with China now on a pace to overtake the U.S. by the end of 2008. What happens to the Internet and social media when China is setting the agenda, and not the U.S.?

Digital marketers typically are early adopters when it comes to using new social media tools. The problem is that most non-tech companies are not. That’s where the most successful marketers earn their money – figuring out solutions that are cutting-edge, but not too cutting-edge as to alienate corporate stakeholders.

While digital marketers are early adopters, they also tend to follow a herd mentality. When certain technologies or tools are "hot," there is a tendency to pile into those areas, without necessarily keeping the best interests of their clients in mind.

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