Last week I had the privilege of facilitating a round table at the Canadian Marketing Association's Digital Marketing Conference (DMC). My topic was Social Media. The folks around the table were amazing! I wish every marketing conversation I participated in had such candor. There were a number of client-side marketers (WestJet, Bell, Raincoast Books and GM) as well as a few folks from agencies.
I had a list of questions prepped (I'll post them at the end), but decided that the group should evoke the conversation (hey, like social media marketing!). What were the big themes? Fear. More fear. Oh, and a little fear. Incredible desire and passion for both the medium and their customers. But lots of fear. (Oh, no real loathing .. that was just to get your attention).
What kind of fear? All kinds. A lot of legal fears. Some about ensuring that they are transparent enough to their users. Some about making sure they have content and buy-in. Fear of sustainability.
And these are all good issues. It breaks my heart that there are so many barriers.
But here's the real kicker.
Those of us who are on the leading edge are instilling the fear.
And that breaks my heart even more. There are some brands who have taken a real chance. Starbucks with their Coffee Conversations. McDonalds with their CSR blog. Chevy Tahoe's roll your own commercial.
And all of these (and others) have been met with derision. You can relive the McDonalds edrama on my blog. You can see what Leesa Barnes has to say about Starbucks as well as what CC Chapman has to say. And there was LOTS of feedback on the Chevy Tahoe.
So with leaders in the field of Social Media Marketing being ready at the drop of a hat to jump on and criticize these efforts, is it any wonder that other marketers don't take the risk? Because who wants to be the whipping boy of the blogosphere?
I wrote about fear specifically in regards to the aborted ROM blog. The ever-articulate Rob Cottingham picked up my ROM thread and left a great rif on fear on a recent episode of For Immediate Release [show notes | Rob's comments are at about the 1:02:04 mark if you listen to the podcast]. Heck, even Seth is talking about fear. Which is great ... but we must be starkly aware where we as members of the marketing community are perpetuating the fear in our colleagues. And we need to turn that into encouragement, by sharing best practices and lessons learned.
This doesn't mean we shouldn't offer constructive criticism or that we should tolerate poor quality work or practices from our colleagues - but I would like to see us change the tone of the conversation. Because behind all these marketing initiatives are people. (Marketers are people too .. LOL .. It's like I'm a Hallmark commercial this morning).
And this is why I love CaseCamp. It's a forum where we as marketers can discuss the good, the bad and ugly. What worked, what didn't. I've shared two cases at two different CaseCamps. And the best part was saying "You know what, this part sucked. Don't do it in your programme." If you don't have a CaseCamp in your community, you need to start one. Now. Get the dialogue going. Change the tone. Dispel the fear.
My initial list of questions for the Social Media Roundtable. I still this these are really good questions that we need to answer, but until we deal with the fear, we can't even start on these.
- If Social Media is the future of marketing – what is the future of your brand? What are some ways that your brand can make itself more social? How are you putting your customer at the heart of your conversation?
- Should all companies have a blog? What about a MySpace page? Which companies should; which companies shouldn’t. Bonus question: what is the biggest area of pain for your company? Why wouldn’t you start there?
- A lot of content for Social Media can be extracted from “pent up” expertise in your company. Example: Starbucks “Coffee Conversations” podcasts. What are some areas of pent-up expertise that would be useful to your customers that you could use to jump-start your social media programme?
- Social Media is largely possible as a marketing vehicle because of technology – to what extent do marketers need to become technologists and vice versa?