Today we continue with the second part of Dr. Ralf Leinemann’s interesting marketing insights, this time on Social Media…

Social Media is considered an opportunity to communicate directly with your customers, sense customers’ attitudes and demands and support your company’s brand awareness. According to some specialists, it is mandatory to be present in the social media if your company is supposed to have a future.

What is disturbing, though, is that many companies jump on social media as if there is no tomorrow – only with a vague idea in mind and the confidence to act as a leader. Where is the definition of objectives, where are the KPIs, where are the ROI calculations?

Getting involved in social media is a long-term commitment that cannot be turned on and off based on short-term tactical decisions – unless you want to take the risk that it back-fires on your company’s reputation.

Still, I am convinced that social media are indeed unavoidable. Not, because it is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything – well, we all know that answer is 42 (see Douglas Adams). Social media are unavoidable, because they simply offer better solutions to known existing challenges.

Two very pragmatic examples:

  1. Email is the communication tool of choice in most companies today – even though we all suffer from piles of unread messages in our in-trays every day and we spend about half of our work time on reading and writing emails. It has been shown that communication based on email is not only ineffective, but it also slows down innovation and ultimately has a negative impact on businesses.
    Companies like the support and services provider Atos have decided a few years ago to drive a “Zero Email” policy and introduce social media based communication tools for internal communication. Such an “Enterprise Social Network” requires a radical re-thinking of how to deal with information. Immediate changes include a shift from “push” to “pull” and a team approach (rather than a one-to one communication).
  2. Especially companies providing complex high-tech products and services address influencers in the industry with dedicated programs. An IAR or industry analyst relations program, for example, provides information to industry analysts to enable them to consult customers on the company and its products. A somewhat unfair naming of such a program is “influencing the influencers” since a good program offers access to information, not PR.
    With the existence of social media, these programs need to be revisited, since the number of influencers has just increased significantly. Blog writers may be as influential as industry analysts, high profile comments in social media as influential as consultants or academics.

The above are just two little examples of entering the world of social media with a clear focus that can be measured with respective KPIs and objectives. Certainly, there are many more. Why not starting with such a manageable topic rather than starting a generic social media project to generate demand or create awareness – and finding yourself up to your eyeballs in unexpected challenges?

Ralf spent about 18 years with Hewlett-Packard before joining Matchcode in 2007. He has published 11 books on marketing and communication related topics such as media relations measurement, industry analyst relations and social media marketing. They were translated into several languages including English, German, Russian, Chinese and others. Ralf has recently focused on business development maximizing the impact of channel marketing.