I recently attended an intensive two day conference held by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). Those in attendance primarily represented "Brands", but there were also some niche advertisers and vendors that service this market too. The conference was composed of case study general sessions for gaining insights from tactics and techniques utilized by others in the industry, as well as intimate round-table breakout sessions. These smaller sessions were extremely enjoyable as they allowed for creative brainstorming and innovation among a group of newly networked advertising professionals.
There were several common themes that resonated throughout the event, which primarily centered on challenges advertisers face with Social Media and Networking and some suggested solutions for overcoming them. Highlights included:
- Key Performance Indicators — How do you track and measure success?
Rather than focus solely on your reach across multiple platforms and high volumes of followers or fans, focus more on the sentiment or intent of your fans and followers.
The success or ROI of a social media channel could be compared to a media buy, in terms of a cost per impression "CPM" metric.
- Adoption — How can you get buy-in from upper management or your clients?
Much emphasis was placed on adding value to conversations and being authentic. The idea of "going to the conversation" was raised, as opposed to the stance of "have them come to us." This seemed especially important for achieving buy-in; if all of your customers are already comfortable in a certain space and chatting about your brand or products, why not join in? Expecting them to come to you may be unreasonable.
- Ownership — Which department is responsible for support social media marketing efforts?
This parallels the other common challenges of time management and investment.
The answers of where the responsibility (and budget) of social media marketing "sits" in companies, both large and small, varied. Ultimately, it seems a blend of a few departments may be the best resolution. These could include Marketing & PR, Sales, Customer Service and even Legal/Risk Management. This last one does seem out there — however as one attendee put it, "the cost of intervening early in customer service could save later on a potential legal issue once the problem has escalated too far."
Social media platforms and channels allow "word of mouth marketing" to move at light speed. Therefore, the rules and necessary reaction time for managing word of mouth marketing have also changed. Many advertisers are struggling to figure out where their company's voice fits in and how to properly engage with customers and interested prospects. Ignoring social media marketing could be detrimental for advertisers, as well as cause them to miss out on some great brand-enthusiast and public relations opportunities.
The biggest takeaway is that, whether you like it or not, people are talking about your brand online — for good or for bad — so the best advice is to go listen …. and respond!