Here’s this week’s round-up of news stories marketers shouldn’t miss because they offer key information or lessons that multi-channel distributed marketing organizations should take to heart. All five of the selected articles demonstrate the deep divides in how companies are addressing social media — and point up why integrating the medium’s “split personality” is likely to be a key challenge for marketers as the social network grows and evolves.
- “Blame Grandpa” Defense Strategy Originated Online — A jury consultant working for Florida murder defendant Casey Anthony has reported that the controversial defense strategy which blamed Caylee Anthony’s grandfather originated with social media users who tweeted and blogged about the trial. “A consultant for Casey Anthony’s attorneys analyzed more than 40,000 highly charged opinions — negative and positive — on social-media sites and blogs, and used them to help the defense craft its trial strategy.” The lesson for marketers: If criminal defense jury consultants craft legal strategies based on social media comments, it’s a sure bet that civil jury consultants won’t be far behind. In fact, they’re already doing just that — trolling corporate and personal social media sites for comments, trends, images, and contacts that can be used in litigation. It’s a reminder that knowing who you’re linked to, and substantiating what you publish, is more than a “best practice” for business social media users.
- Tracking and Monitoring Solutions Work — But Only After You Have a Strategy — Jill Duffy of PC Magazine published a great look at social media aggregators (tools that help marketers manage multiple social media sites) with comments from panelists at a social media workshop for food industry executives and small business owners. The panelists who deal on a daily basis with the positive and negative side of consumer review sites and social media where customers (or competitors) can boost or trash their reputation instantly all agreed on one thing: technology is great, but you have to do the research it takes to develop a strategy, and you have to be consistent in how you manage the process. The lesson for marketers: Your business is already being discussed online, and the average age of a social media user is 40. The early adopter phase is over — and tools to help you manage your online reputation and marketing work great, but only for those who understand how social media works. If you haven’t gotten started yet, it’s past time to learn the basics and join the conversation.
- Half of Companies Don’t Have Social Media Policies — And Half of Employees Don’t Follow Them. Two separate studies were in the news this week, one showing that half of large companies don’t have social media policies — and the other showing that even when companies have a social media policy, half of employees don’t follow it. The data from both is worth reviewing, and provides insight into the evolving nature of corporate social media policy. The lesson for marketers: Both of these studies show how important education and training are — from the top down — as part of a digital or social media initiative. Handing someone a social media policy form to sign on the day they’re hired and thinking that they will remember it — and comply with it — later is just unreasonable.
- 90% of Employers Use Social Media to Recruit Top Talent — At the same time that the NLRB is cracking down on companies with too-restrictive social media policies, and FINRA is declaring that there is no dividing line between a financial professional’s personal activities online and their professional activities, Forbes says that more companies are using social media to recruit top talent in all fields. Many of them are using automated software tools to find potential candidates based on their links in a particular field, geographic region, and career specialty. The lesson for marketers: How you use social media, and how your employees use social media, will have an impact on your company’s ability to recruit talent — and on your own career. So as you are crafting your social media policy, it’s important to walk the fine line between complying with sometimes divergent rules — this is why buy-in from multiple stakeholders (human resources, marketing, sales, PR, legal, compliance) is vital in planning an effective and compliant digital and social media marketing program.
- Only 20% of Companies Rate Digital Media as a “Core” Marketing Effort — A survey by Forrester, conducted on behalf of Dell, has some interesting data — and so does the webcast on the subject hosted by Guy Kawasaki — highlighting the schizophrenic split within many companies when it comes to digital media. On one hand, more than three-quarters of the companies surveyed monitor online conversations and respond to customer feedback through social media, but only 20 percent of the survey respondents place social media at the core of their marketing plans. The lesson for marketers: Social media remains an evolving medium, which is changing quickly. So while it’s important to monitor and interact appropriately, marketers have to address the entire spectrum of multi-channel marketing communications tools, from collateral and print, through presentations and microsites, through social media, QR codes, video, and all the rest.