If there is one event I would have hoped to attend this year, it is the Marketing 2.0 Conference which is taking place in Paris later this month.  Put together by Nils Andres of the Brand Science Institute, it features a lineup of remarkable individuals to talk about the future evolution of marketing as we know it.  Alas, travels take me elsewhere, so I will have to rely on blogs, Twitter and whatever shows up on Slideshare afterwards.

Still, the beauty of blogging is that you don’t need to be “at” an event to throw some questions into the pot and – hopefully – stir up some debate.  Especially as the title of the event and some of the speakers seem to suggest a fashionable amount of attention will go to social media matters.

While I have spent some time pondering social media in 2006, this topic is getting dear to my heart again. Partially because – here at Futurelab -  there has been a marked increase in the number of requests from large organisations to help develop a “social media strategy”.  This is often accompanied by the words Facebook, Twitter, buzz and monetization.

My usual one-line response to these queries is that developing a strategy for social media, is about as useful as developing of a strategy for a fax machine.



I believe that too many people keep focusing on the tools and the media, rather than on the customer relationship they support.  After all, in the context of this relationship, the (social) media that are used to communicate are only of secondary importance. 

Just like a retail store or a call-centre, social media are merely a reflection of the overall behaviour of a business.  If a company does not have the habit of having conversations with its customers, it will struggle online.  If it is unable to monetise its online presence, it probably hasn't fully considered its total customer value strategy.  If it faces negative online buzz, there is probably a reason for it in the offline world.

So my thesis is the following. 

Social media are highly visible and thus warrant immediate attention and management.  No debate.

But rather than spend too much time on coming up with a social media strategy, businesses need to look further than Facebook or Twitter. 

Instead, they need to focus on the “customer’s world” and realize that the best way to:

  • improve their online reputation, is to start creating happy customers.
  • monetise the digital/social media franchise, is to develop a strong customer value strategy.
  • have effective online conversations, is to enable their people to have them everywhere.

Make sure the above is in order, and the “social media strategy” is a no-brainer.  Get them wrong, and no matter how many people you put on having conversations, you’re not going to win the game.

Or as the King used to say: A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action.

Thank you very much ;-)

Image source: Old Shoe Woman

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