By “Social Steve” Goldner, Contributing {grow} Columnist

It’s time to bring social media marketing to an end.

I do not make this statement lightly.  In fact it is pretty humbling.  How do you think I, SocialSteve, feel about telling you about the end of social?  Damn … not sure if my name can live on and switching it to DigitalSteve … just doesn’t have the same ring.

Seriously, I want to tell you why we need to stop concentrating on a social media strategy as the end game.  Far too many people approach social media as a separate entity.  Another organization in the company.  Even separate from marketing.  And this is the problem that needs to be solved.

eMarketer stated that “Integrating Social Media into Business Process a Challenge” — “When it comes to integrating social media into the overall business, companies must evolve and change structurally, culturally and on a personal employee level to succeed.”  And what this means is that we should stop talking about social media as its own country club.

It is time for the real leaders to emerge and set the course.  These leaders need to have a holistic marketing methodology (strategy, plan and promotion, operations, and tracking) that MUST include all digital elements:

  • Demand generation (CRM)
  • Digital asset development and management (could be a service)
  • Email
  • Display and PPC (pay per click)
  • SEO (organic)
  • Paid SEO
  • Social outreach (go where the conversation is, not just your Facebook and Twitter)
  • Social engagement (listen and converse on your assets and off)
  • And don’t forget all things must be brought to mobile as well

A mandate for a holistic view

Let me highlight why the holistic approach is a MUST.

I’ll step away from social to make an unbiased point.  Let’s take “display.”  What is the value of display?  Some may be cynical about its value, but consider this scenario.  Let’s say Connie Consumer visits Brand X’s site to view smartphones and packages.  What if you could store the user action and information, and then later provide a display ad for Brand X when Connie visits another site?  Through this integrated approach, the value of the display ad goes up exponentially because it is contextually relevant to Connie’s activities and reinforces her original interest in Brand X.  If you just went about displaying your ad in a silo, you could never accomplish the same results.

But this siloed approach is primarily what is happening with social media.  So long as it is stand-alone and lacking contextual and promotional relevance, it will continue to have little success for you.  What I am really suggesting is that we evolve our social media marketing approach to be a “mentality” as opposed to a “practice.”

As long as we think about social media as platforms as opposed to a channel that reinforces a brand position, creating greater awareness, increasing views on brand content, increasing sharing of brand content, winning earned media, unleashing referrals, and word of mouth marketing, we will never reap the true potential of an integrated marketing strategy.  And my experience shows me an abundance of siloed exercises developing marketing and social media strategies.

A path forward

Here are my suggestions on breaking in a new social media mindset:

  1. Make sure you have an integrated media plan – one that includes print, radio, TV, complete digital (yes social is in there)
  2. State specific quantitative marketing growth goals (i.e. awareness; brand recognition and reputation; views of all assets; brand sharing of content, referrals, and overall word of mouth; earned media)
  3. Baseline goal parameters and continually measure
  4. Make adjustments as required based on metrics

So while I will still evangelize social media (because my name is SocialSteve after all!), I am suggesting that YOU stop talking about social media in your company.  Make sure you stand out as a marketing leader and address the objectives of growth in customer awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy.  Use the full digital marketing palette available to you.  If you really do this and produce a complete marketing strategy and plan, I am sure social will be in there.  But you don’t have to speak about social media explicitly.  It can be our little secret.  OK with you?

Steve Goldner is the Senior Director at MediaWhiz where he leads the social media practice. Steve has been a marketing executive for the past 20+ years and engaged in social media for the last 4 years. You can follow him on Twitter @SocialSteve and visit his own blog at http://socialsteve.wordpress.com .

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