Should You Drink the Social Kool-Aid?


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filters to stop the deluge. Think about the flood of junk mail you received before you had a spam filter. “In the last two years there was a lot of investment in tools to help companies broadcast their messages out to as many people as they can,” explains Boyer. “Now the focus is to develop tools to allow people to filter the messages.” McDaniel is optimistic. “You’ll see tools that produce greater relevance and less volume.”

What brands are using social media marketing most effectively?

Everyone agrees that Old Spice found social gold with its campaign. It brought young men to the brand and sales are way up. Is it sustainable? Stay tuned. Beyond the Old Spice jackpot, each social pro has his favorite:

Boyer: “Dell is one of the original innovators using crowdsourcing well. The Dell Idea Storm, launched a few years ago, lets people upload their own ideas for what Dell should be doing next and allows everyone to vote. Products, services, everything.”

Fatzinger: “The Amazon Kindle team spends a lot of time crafting their content. They have a serious internal dialogue about what the content means and when it should be posted. They’re not a client of ours. The content always seems interesting, arrives at the right time and is something I’m comfortable sharing with my friends.”

McDaniel: “Best Buy’s Twelpforce is great. They created a single Twitter account that all floor employees can respond to. Now they have a knowledgeable social media team of thousands responding to inquiries in real time.”

What’s the secret to social?

“You still need great marketing strategy,” Boyer says. “Companies that carpet bomb their customers will fail. Those that manage a conversation with relevance, insight and timing will grow.”

Fatzinger is more emphatic: “The rules are the same as other forms of marketing. A lot of social media groups are focused on the technology. We’re spending so much time on tab applications and curation tools, but we’re forgetting that the way to connect with an audience is to create commonalities that cause us to interact. The ones who have won in marketing are the ones who can tell a great story that connects with their audience.”

The groundswell effect, the open communication and the transparency of social media promise rising consumer empowerment. Some companies see opportunity, others see threats to their marketing hegemony. Rumors of a marketing revolution may be overstated, but a consumer revolt is coming for brands that don’t elevate their game. The marketing world has changed for sure. I’ll save the rest of the hyperbole for my Facebook page, where it belongs.

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Paul Owen is the founder and CEO of Owen Media, a high tech public relations and marketing firm in Seattle. He doesn't represent any of the firms mentioned in this post. Follow @

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One response to “Should You Drink the Social Kool-Aid?”

  1. timo says:

    CMOs should demand mobile social media engines must deliver a communications platform that blends with people’s real-life activities, respect their privacy, enhance shared experiences, + improve current capabilities, with no distractions, delays, check-ins or triple click-throughs.

    For the first mobile brand marketing engine designed with these objectives, check out Social Messaging(TM) from PoKos