Friday, May 22, 2009

Coming to terms with Social... WHAT?!?!?

I've been doing social marketing for years. This is what it is:

Social Marketing is "the application of marketing technologies developed in the commercial sector to the solution of social problems where the bottom line is behaviour change." It involves: "the analysis, planning, execution and evaluation of programs designed to influence the voluntary behaviour of target audiences to improve their personal welfare and that of society."
(Courtesy of Health Canada)

This year, I'm really getting into social media. Here's what that is:

Social media describes the online tools that people use to share content, profiles, opinions, insights, experiences, perspectives and media itself, thus facilitating conversations and interaction online between groups of people. These tools include blogs, message boards, podcasts, micro blogs, lifestreams, bookmarks, networks, communities, wikis, and vlogs.
(Courtesy of Brian Solis)

Apples and oranges. And yet, while it's not that surprising that the public gets these two terms mixed up (they're both "social" after all), I'm constantly amazed how many career marketing professionals still need to sort it out.

Even the Googles do nothing to dispel the confusion. Here's what a search of "social marketing" turned up on Google news:

1. "Is social marketing mostly hype?" SmartBrief - ‎May 21, 2009‎ (an article about social MEDIA)

2. "Research and Markets: What Marketing Executives Need to Know About Social Networking: Understanding Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn & Other Opportunities " Earthtimes (press release) - ‎May 18, 2009‎

3. "Word-of-Mouth Marketing Evolution" Forbes - ‎May 21, 2009‎ (this one's actually about buzz)

Clearly, we need to straighten out the difference between message and media. To compound the problem, social marketing clients, with big hopes for reach and shrinking budgets, are increasingly turning to social media to shape behaviour.

A couple of years ago, the biggest confusion for social marketers was the fact that many of their campaigns were actually corporate social responsibility campaigns. (That's why we invented the "Social Issues Marketing" category for our agency, to erect a tent where they could both live together in harmony.)

Today, social marketers are saddled with a marketing specialty that sounds like a new media plan. And a social marketing client can use social ads on social networks as part of a social media plan, then bring in corporate social responsibility partners from the private sector as part of their campaign to improve society.

What can the industry do to sort it out? Come up with new terms? I'm open all weekend for suggestions.

No comments:

Post a Comment