On Saturday I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion at Eastern University. The school of Management Studies put on program to help the Executive MBA students with relevant topics for their studies. The topic of this program was Marketing and Social Media. The format allowed for a few minutes of introductions and presentations by each panelist, then questions and answers. In the photo you will see from the left Pete Berol of Eastern University, Wendy Warren of Philly.com, Jennifer Burns of Virtua Hospital Systems, Brian Johnson of Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Laura Nicholas an Independent Consultant with IBM, myself (yes with the hands moving) and Brendon Shank a consultant on marketing and social media.
The types of questions the folks asked who had assembled there were relevant and indicated an understanding of the interrelation between Marketing and Social Media. The most interesting one to me was a guy who was working with a sizable firm and he wanted to know how to get management to consider a venture into social media as part of the overall marketing plan. After some discussion the panel came up with this: every company needs to step up and take charge of their obligation to be a part of society and the tools available with social media allows – no encourages – no mandates that companies now do this.
The mix of tools can be resolved for the company by where their customers are, but the decision to participate or not should never be the issue – the issue should be how, why, what to measure and my favorite – to what end.
It is time to think about social media not as a stand alone or separate outreach, but as part of an overall marketing strategy. The question should never be about convincing someone they should consider the new tools – it should be which of these tools make the most sense.
Never before has there been so many choices for marketers and yet decisions are slow to evolve. Is it because some wish for the good old days when the company was in charge? Is it fear, or is it that companies do not know what to expect and therefore opt out.
The discussions will take place whether you participate or not – it can be fun and highly rewarding if done correctly – take the time to plan a strategy for marketing that includes listening and engagement – you ignore at your own peril.
Rick Simmons is a principal at Dinkum Interactive, a firm specializing in online marketing solutions for small and medium sized businesses around the globe. With more than 25 years of experience in advertising and marketing, Simmons has spent the last four years focused on search engine optimization, and other Internet marketing strategies. Reach him at 267-626-9094 or [email protected]