Stop with the Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'

Larry Irons · October 2, 2008 · Short URL:

Customers aren't targets for social media

 Keeping up with social media is a real challenge these days.

However, one theme seems constant whenever you read blogs about social media, especially among marketers and so-called optimizers who target, target, target to drive, drive, drive customers to their client's social media asset, i.e. video, blog, community, etc.

More than a few advocates of social media seem like they aspire to play Rowdy, Gil, Jed, or one of the other actors on Rawhide.

Move 'em on, head 'em up
Head 'em up, move 'em on
Move 'em on, head 'em up
Count 'em out, ride 'em in
Ride 'em in, count 'em out
Count 'em out, ride 'em in

Folks, targeting is not nearly as important to social media as understanding customers, attracting them, engaging them, and learning from them to improve products and services. Important results, like reinforcing your client's brand, come naturally from that temporal process. It is a process that takes place over time, not at the speed of a click. Customers are smarter than many social media optimizers think. The engagement gap is not a marketing problem so much as it is an experience design challenge. Haven gets it right when he says,
...finding a successful social media solution isn't a marketing problem, it's a product development problem...In most (but not all) cases, it's difficult to get people passionately engaged during the selling process. This is because most marketing approaches essentially favor the needs of the marketer (sell the product, reach more eyeballs, disrupt the prospect so they think about us), not the prospect (How are other people in my situation preparing for retirement? Do the people who read that book feel it helped them?). ...what companies need to do is understand how social technologies enhance their existing products in a way that benefits the constituent (or what new product could exist). Make life easier, fun, or inspiring for a person and they'll be more engaged. Make the social technology solution a core offering, then the marketers get a better shot at turning that participation into something that will entice new customers.

Haven's point is precisely about the importance of the customer/user experience with social media. Mark Vanderbeeken makes a similar point.


Larry writes the blog Skilful Minds.



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