Today at Web 2.0 Expo, a "Forrester reunion" panel made up of Jeremiah Owyang, Peter Kim and Charlene Li told a packed room at Moscone West how they believe social media marketing is failing. Don't fear, however, because they also discussed how they believe it can be fixed.
On culture: "The biggest challenge is the bottom-up bubbling of social media versus the top down approach," Owyang said. "Requires a lot of cultural change and most companies are not ready for that."
How do you get a culture to change? "This is not something that's done overnight. Start small so people can begin experimenting," said Li. "If you want cultural change you have to get 'big guns' involved. These are people at the executive level."
Owyang cautioned that social media is not often led by executives -- it is led by the lower level and mid-level workers. However, Kim said that, "One of the great fallacies of social media is that it is a young person's game."
Owyang sees corporations people engaging in social media in three different ways, which he has named:
- "Tire" When social media comes from the edges of the company; it's very authentic. However one side may not know what the other side is doing.
- "Tower" Imagine corporate communications wants to centralize social media. Downside is it begins to look like rehashed press releases.
- "Hub and Spoke" Cross-functional group right in the middle of the hub, perhaps pairing up executives with younger digital media advocates.
On campaigns: One of the biggest failures comes from people thinking of social media as "campaigns," said Li. Campaigns are short-term. She said the bigger question people should be asking is, "What kind of relationships do I have today and what kind of relationship do I want in the picture?" Social media should be part of a long-term business strategy, she said.
That led to likely the most important question for marketers, posed by Kim: "Do we need to get rid of the marketing department?"
Li believes that marketing is safe, as other aspects of marketing beyond advertising and PR (i.e. promotions, brand management, etc.) become more elevated in the face of social media.
"Marketers will evolve," Owyang he said.
On measurement: "Many marketers are measuring social media wrong," Owyang said. "You can't use page views or clickthroughs to measure social media. It can't measure conversations or tone with such older marketing measurement approaches.
Li says you also need to consider why you are measuring. Is it for effectiveness? For budgeting? To see if sales leads are coming in? If you don't know what you are measuring, she said, then what are you doing?
"This is one of the areas of biggest fail among marketers in general, " Kim said.
"If you're not associating your social media efforts with a larger business goal, your program is going to get cut," Li said.
The biggest question about social media is around failure itself, Li said.
"If you are engaged in social media you have to expect to fail... if you don't fail you are not doing it right. So this goes back to the question, 'Can my culture really adopt this'? Things are not written in stone."
"Social media doesn't matter, the way it's being executed today," Kim said. "Will it matter? Yes. We are social beings and always will be social beings but we're learning to adopt and adapt to new technologies."