Social Marketing or a Football Game? – You Need to Decide – Now

social marketing

Football & Social Marketing – More Related than you Think?

As the former head of the Nebraska band & an instructor of social marketing at the Northwestern Medill IMC program, I really love college football.  The band playing, the fans yelling, and the spirit of the event are infectious.   It’s great to attend the game whether you win or lose … OK, winning is better but it is still fun regardless of the outcome.  But what does this have to do with social marketing?

Think of the crowd at a football game.  Occasionally, we all yell the same thing because the cheerleaders or the scoreboard tell us to.  When this occurs, the stadium loudly resonates with the cheer.  It is powerful, directed, and is often effective in lifting the spirits of the fans and the players.  At the right time, a cheer or school song can appear to lift the team to another level.

However, most of the time the crowd is involved in the game but not participating in coordinated cheers.  We all yell to encourage the team but our yelling is much like the picture…individuals shouting their own message to the team.  While it creates noise, individual shouts are probably not heard by the team members and the noise generated is both positive and negative.

But what does this have to do with Social Marketing?


social marketing social media usage survey results

Altimeter Social Media Usage Survey Results 1/2012

 In a January 2012 survey on social media usage from the Altimeter Group, determined that – on the average – a large company has 178 SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS!  These accounts are on a wide range of platforms and have been established by individuals throughout the company.  Companies have 39.2 Twitter accounts and 29.9 Facebook accounts.  Think about the implications of these findings for your company.

In marketing, we spend a lot of time discussing the importance of brand and the brand message.  We teach students that the brand is to be treasured and carefully managed to both differentiate you from the competition and to provide prospects with a known product to purchase.  From start-ups to the largest corporations, we spend a great deal of time [and money!] to be consistent in our brand mesage.  And we do…sales, marketing, and PR work hard to ensure all communications with stakeholders, customers and prospects uniformly position the company, our products and services, and our brand “essence”.

Is your Social Media program a crowd or marketing? 

 Think about your social marketing program in light of this survey.  You know social media is an effective way to impact prospects and customers.  It’s ability to effectively target the high value communities which produce your company’s business is unparalleled and it’s growing.  However, if dozens of people within your organization are yelling messages into the social cloud – with little or no coordination within your company, what is the brand message your are communicating?  Your carefully developed brand and company positioning is lost the same way an uncoordinated crowd has its message lost at the football game.  Rather than a strong, loud, coordinated yell or fight song, your message is lost as literally hundreds of social media sites shout at the very prospects you want to attract.

It’s time you take control of social media


Marketing Sherpa social marketing survey

Marketing Sherpa social marketing survey

In a 1/2012 survey, Marketing Sherpa found that only 20% of all companies are producing a measurable ROI from their social marketing programs and 64% – while feeling that intuitively social marketing should have ROI – don’t see it in their current efforts.  It’s time for that to change.  [I will be discussing this Marketing Sherpa survey in a future blog article]

Today, there are business models producing measurable ROI.  That is what we are implementing at Marketing Synergy and at in my social marketing classes at Northwestern.  From this experience, here are some actions business and marketing managers should do today:

  1. Determine the role of social media at your company – You cannot successfully develop and deploy a social marketing program without a goal.  As I discussed in previous blogs, is the role of your social program marketing, customer service, brand positioning or something else.  For many combinations it is all of these … but in an uncoordinated fashion.  Worse, for many companies, their marketing and brand presence in the social cloud is run by PR or other non-marketing functions [or – worse- just someone in the organization who wants to talk products].  Managers need to discuss what they want to accomplish and where in the organization that function should occur.  You CAN have social marketing programs with measurable ROI and trackable results…you just need to determine that is what you want.
  2. Develop clear roles, responsibilities, and communications goals – In integrated marketing, companies go to great lengths to clarify who will run their marketing communications and the company, brand and product essences they want communicated.  However, in social, this is rarely the case.  When we create an integrated marketing campaign [email, telemarketing, DRTV, etc.], we develop a creative brief which defines our target market [social community], marketing objectives, key measures, selling propositions [USPs] and the creative and marketing tests we will undertake in the program.  These marketing efforts go through many levels of management review to ensure the final prpgram is consistent with the company and brand positions we carefully developed.  Does your social marketing efforts have the same level of scrutiny?  Is anyone really watching it?  Whether you are just “talking” to people on Twitter or Facebook or doing a sophisticated social marketing program like we develop at Marketing Synergy, you need to manage social media just like any other marketing program.  Whether you acknowledge it or not, you are marketing when you “go social”.
  3. Identify the markets you want to impact – There are two types of social media deployment.  One waits for prospects to show up at your site to initiate a conversation.  At Northwestern, we call this the Twitter/Facebook strategy.  A second form of marketing goes to targeted communities to join them and become a part of the community.  This is what we call social marketing at Marketing Synergy and at Northwestern.  To develop this second type of marketing strategy, we start with a Social EKG.  This is an analytical methodology designed to:
    • Identify the customer segments of highest value to your company
    • Use social monitoring and primary research to determine where they are in the “social cloud”.  We want to know what social media they use and how frequently they use it.  This includes Facebook, Twitter, social aggregators [Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon, etc.], bloggers, news sites, and other social network elements.
    • Determine if they are discussing you and your competitors and, if so, what are they saying and is it positive or negative about you
    • Identify the influentials in the social networks where your high value prospects go for information
  4. Develop community specific strategies, tactics, and – most important – performance measures – All forms of integrated marketing – including social marketing – are inherently targetable, testable, and measurable.  This is the foundation of the Social IMC business model.  It is now time for companies to transform social media into a marketing strategy we can measure, improve and – most importantly – justify at the “C” level of your company.  Today, companies are developing social marketing programs with measurable ROI [20% are doing it from the Marketing Sherpa survey].  It’s time for your company to do so as well.

It’s Time

It’s time to make social media more focused for your company.  It’s time to transform social from talk to action.  It’s time to  add the elements which makes integrated marketing successful – targeted, testable, trackable, measurable & justifiable.  It’s time to change social media from a crowd yelling at a football game into a marketing asset for your company.

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Randy Hlavac
Randy Hlavac is a marketing futurist who – since 1990 – has worked to integrate new technologies into the marketing strategies & tactics of B2B and B2C companies.

January 2012
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