Social media – a lot like putting your pants on.

27 Feb

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This morning I popped into the Technology for Marketing and Advertising (TFM&A) exhibition to sit in on a few seminars.

This morning’s best talk was on ‘social brand management’ led by Scott McKee from Birddog, a digital and brand consultancy, and Gareth Case from Xuber, a specialist commercial insurance company. They addressed the challenge faced by community managers everywhere, particularly for B2B brands: ‘I’m social, My brand isn’t.’

It’s well-known that some B2B brands aren’t the quickest to recognise and respond to new trends. Some even think starting a conversation on LinkedIn is a risk.

But, as McKee explained, LinkedIn has stabilised unlike Twitter and Facebook – which recently celebrated hitting the one billion user mark. So, it doesn’t make business sense to rely on this channel alone.

The problem is clients are desperate to know the ROI. They’ll happily invest in events, print advertising and a good-looking website without a second thought, but they expect instant results with social media.

Scott Monty, head of social media for Ford once said:

You may as well ask what’s the ROI of putting your pants on every day. There is a value to it but it’s hard to measure.

Damn right it is. But it feels good doesn’t it? So, why hold back on social?

PRs, marketers and brand consultants need to be really clear with their clients: new media, new rules, new KPIs. And, with 98% of the UK and US using social media, can they really afford not to give it a proper go? Done properly brands could end up with a loyal social community around them who do they talking for them.

What surprised me was how McKee and Case, his client, met. Case ended up on Birddog’s mailing list and from there, they listened and engaged with eachother on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs. A chance ‘meeting’ that wasn’t taken for granted by Birddog. McKee gave Case reasons to keep his business front of mind – long enough until he had a generous marketing budget. Then, who did he turn to? The company that had already won him over.

Together, they did the usual ofdefining objectives, audience, and competition, but also fleshed out a content plan, put their community manager to work to engage 24/7 and monitored reports to respond to what people did and didn’t like.

In just four months, Xuber reached more than 3.3 million people as a direct result of its social media activity. More than this, it generated seven new business leads worth Β£3.7m. Not bad for an instance company remember.

The golden nugget of this seminar was when Case was asked how he got management buy-in to go ahead with his plans. He said, they set all the managers up with their own social media accounts and let them play around with them. When they struggled and fought against each other about how many followers they each had he said: ‘you can either do it yourself or marketing can help you do it better.’

It makes sense.

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