A spate of recent studies ("Social Media in Marketing Mix: Budgeting for 2011, Debra Aho Williamson, e-marketer / "How Engaged is Your Brand?" Alterian 8th Annual Survey / "Why Social Media Projects Fail: a European Perspective ", BSI) tend to prove that brands, whether in Europe or in the USA, do not know how to make use of social media. I propose to take another look at the salient points of these surveys:
- Brands do not incorporate social media into their overall strategy: all too often they are just used as "one-offs" or driven by a fad ("this is something important so I'm going to do it even if I don't know why", so says another study). Poor integration into distribution channels, CRM, or customer service, reduces social media to merely a tool for marketing and/or communication. This shows a basic misconception of the influence that social media can have in building customer relationships.
- Brands continue to consider social media as just another "top down" communication channel: they overlook their very spirit, which is to maintain a conversation. Besides the fact that some of them (including luxury brands) are reluctant to build a relationship as "equals" with their consumers, they do not equip themselves with the tools to track online discussions in which their name is mentioned – although these exist and have proven to be very useful (a member of The Scriptorium Company network is an expert in the matter).
- The marketing strategy is too often stereotyped, and lacks real personalization of the relationship: this contrasts with one of the mega-trends that The Sscriptorium Company points out in its reports - the need for personalization. They need to go beyond traditional CRM - and build real "personalized consumer journeys".
- Brands find it very difficult to determine the ROI of their Web initiatives: unlike Internet pure-players where all data is computed, all the brands hailing from the offline sector do not know how to equip themselves with ad hoc measuring tools.
The White Paper published last week by The Scriptorium Company ("Case Study: Customer Experience Design for Luxury Brands / Re-engaging with consumers to design integrated customer journeys in the luxury industry") shows how customer relationships have to be placed at the core of brand strategy today. Once it has been defined, "social media", CRM, and communication then become so many tools at the service of customer relationships.