Social media is not about campaigns, it is about relationships. I just read a great post about PR, Influence and social media by Jeremy Pepper. In it, he talks about the value of Klout, the online tool that shows an individuals “social media influence”. (Full disclosure: my Klout score hovers around 50 ish, which according to Pepper is close to a “celebrity”, although I’m profoundly sceptical about that).
Pepper describes a number of recent campaigns that used Klout to ensure that people became aware of a new product offering or service, and how after the campaign (whether for a new TV show, or a new airline route), the activity and communication from the brand all but ceased.
So why do marketers do this? Spend all that money on a Klout campaign and then stop communicating? My guess is that traditional marketers have been trained to think of communication as a series of unidirectional campaigns that have a specific start and finish, unlike a relationship which needs to be constantly tended, or it dies. Studies suggest that anywhere between 40% and 60% of complaints about a brand, lodged on social media (for example, a Facebook Fan page) do not receive any response from the company that owns the brand. Traditional marketers do not have the resources or skills to manage and maintain that many relationships online, so they turn tools like Twitter into another form of broadcast media.
If we are to embrace the true potential of social media, marketers are going to have to drop some of their old assumptions. Forget about “campaigns”, start to engage with customers in a meaningful way, develop relationships instead of selling, forget the idea that the company controls the brand message. These are going to be painful and costly lessons that will need to be learned on the road to becoming effective social marketers.