A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Sysmos Summit in Raleigh, North Carolina. I was the only pollster at the event, but I am glad I went because I learned two things:
1) The technology I want isn’t quite here yet. I attended because I am interested in using information from social media to recreate psychographic segmentations I develop with custom survey data. Unfortunately, it seems that there isn’t a really good integrated solution for this…yet. (Then, the person I was talking to would say something like: “Actually, we are working on something, but I can’t talk about. We are under a strict NDA. But, it is what you are looking for…..”)
2) The new technology I may or may not understand still fits old-school communications strategy as I know it. I say old-school because I still remember the old world: calling from pay phones, searching the card catalog at the library, losing my sync cable, and breaking up in person. ATMs are an innovation implemented in my life time.
Somewhere amidst all of this change, management inquiries about “social media” or just “digital” have become en vogue. Typically, they sound like:
“What are we doing on the social media side?”
“We’re ready to launch our jPhone app that integrates twinder and five-square…”
“Great work! Let’s utilize existing frameworks to leverage strategic alignment.”
Nods all round.
Not so long ago, these same folks dismissed digital media as a fad. Ironically, now they want a ‘social media’ strategy because everyone has one.
All of this to say, my advice for dinosaurs (and anyone else) struggling in the digital world is the same:
1. Strategy remains. Digital or not, tactics come and go. The only reason to employ social media (or any other method of communication) is because it will deliver your message to your target audience(s). In other words, use social media because it advances the overall strategy.
2. Social media isn’t free. Done well, social media is often labour intensive. ‘Going viral’ ain’t easy, so budget accordingly. Make sure your plan includes the resources necessary to allow your social media [digital or other term de jour] efforts to be successful. This should include both labour and paid media budget.
3. More than ever, it pays to know your audience. The oldest adage of communication is more relevant than ever in the digital sphere. The better you understand your audience, the better the return on digital media investments. Digital communication offers an unprecedented ability to deliver customized content to increasingly narrow audience segments.
4. The waiting is the hardest part. Social media and other digital channels offer an endless array of metrics. Take advantage of the data to set targets and monitor progress. But, avoid the temptation to chase yesterday’s results. Real change takes time. Establish a baseline, set your targets, and stick to your timeline.