Home > Uncategorized > Communication Strategy vs Social Media Strategy?

Communication Strategy vs Social Media Strategy?

A few weeks ago  I was in conversation with a friend who works in the motor oil industry. Eventually the conversation turned to Social Media and he wondered aloud if he should be on Social Media at all. His words paraphrased here, were along the lines of ‘everyone says I should be on Social Media. When I ask why, the only response I seem to get is that all brands are on it. That is a rather weak reason to do anything’.

Before commenting on whether, or not, someone like motor oils should be on Social Media, the most alarming thing for me in his statement was the fact that we have a category of ‘experts’ who are potentially damaging the wider industry. No one should be pushing any strategy on the back of ‘look everyone else is doing it’.

Over the years, we have seen the siloisation of the communications industry and the slices are getting finer and finer. Many domain experts abound but very few who are able to take a holistic view of the whole communication process and find the role for various media. This, I believe, is harming social media’s, and other media, utilisation as a marketing tool.

So going back to the Q that my friend asked. Should a category like motor oils be on social media at all?

I did some quick checking and found that not many people talk about the oil that goes into their cars. That takes away a key argument of the social media experts : ‘whether you are present or not, your customers are talking about you. So you better have a social media strategy’.If the consumer is not in the social media space then you don’t need a social media strategy. Right?

There are many low involvement categories where the end consumers are happy to abdicate brand choice to another person. This could be because of lack of knowledge, or lack of ‘interest’. In such categories consumers are seldom going to go on-line for research or to communicate.This means these types of brands may not need even a digital strategy. Right?

Reminds me of the old parable about the salesman visiting an island and seeing no one wearing shoes, and declaring there was no market for shoes there.

As a marketer of such categories, the more important question is whether engagement with the end consumer is part of the communication strategy. Some brands don’t like being held hostage to the middle man be it a dealer or a mechanic or a painter or who ever. They want to build, and own the consumer relationship. Other brands are quite happy to dominate the ‘channel’. They feel if they own the channel then they will keep control over what brand is delivered to the consumer.

The point here is not to recommend the right strategy, rather to say that one needs to have the strategy. And all good marketers do. That strategy will dictate whether one should be using digital media or social media.

If engagement with the end consumer is a key element of the strategy then there’s a clear role for social media. If it isn’t there may still be a role, but catering to a different audience set.

Like most marketing, this is sheer common sense.

However, I see that as technology has invaded marketing we have Search Experts, email experts, website experts, social media experts, analytics experts and so on. In the process, the communication strategy is taking a back seat to the media strategy.

This runs the risk of consumers getting a disjointed view of the brand, brands spending more money than they should and/or brand managers taking on the role of integration. All sub optimal solutions.

With the plethora of domain experts out there, perhaps there is a market for Communication Integrators who bring all these various players together and create the perfect brand melody.

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  1. February 11, 2013 at 11:46 pm

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