As a marketer you know the most important aspect of marketing is to “know thy market.” And that, for a lot of marketers, includes knowing demographics and psychographics, competition, buying-decision process and purchasing habits, etc., etc., etc. And depending on the size of the organization that information may come from extensive marketing research or a gut instinct that’s been built up with years of experience.
Many traditional marketing and communications campaigns, programs, etc. are then based on that collected information or a gut instinct. Sometimes an organization will get lucky and be wildly successful and other times a campaign will fall flat on its razzle-dazzled face. And lately, there seems to be more examples of the the latter.
What could be a cause? Often, as marketers we have a bad habit of making broad and sweeping generalizations about the markets we are targeting. I have had a lot of conversations with marketers in which I often here “Parents, teens, GEN Y think this way…” or “The telecom, pharma, high-tech doesn’t like…”
The problem with those types of generalizations is that there are people who build up those markets and, as we know, most people do not always think exactly the same way. And social media is putting a big ‘ol spotlight on that fact.
If you are a marketer considering social media and marketing to established communities (i.e. your target audience) do you actually know the people by name? Do you have a sense of how they interact within their community? Do you know who the opinion leaders or influencers are? Do you know how they think and react to information within their market? Can you seamlessly and consistently blend in?
What do I mean by all of that? Well, when information is shared with a social community one of two things will happen: They will respond or they will ignore you. If they respond…do you have the background and experience, especially if they call you to the carpet, to hold a conversation? Or will you need to pass the ball to someone else within your organization who understands? Or worse, will you ignore the response because you’re now in a tricky situation of being left without enough information or having anyone else who understand social media enough to jump in and respond?
I have often said that most marketers (marketing communications, specifically) aren’t the best people to engage in social media for an organization because they don’t truly understand the market because they aren’t the market. A lot of times their knowledge of the product or service only skims the surface, say compared to the product/service development team.
See where I am going with this? We are all consumers and as such we often know products and services better than the people marketing them. That said, there are exceptions and examples of people who are both.
Lindsay Lebresco was successful handing PR and social media for Graco Baby because she is a mom. Amber Naslund is successful handling community for Radian6, a social media monitoring company, because she’s a marketer and social media thought leader. Kim Wood, a successful realtor and blogger, understands her market because she lives in it.
Do you blend in?