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Flipping the Relationship of Social Movement and Social Media

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We have seen a handful of instances where social media was a key to the success of a social movement. But what about a social movement being the reason for success of social media? Confused? Let me explain.

I am sure you are familiar with what has been referred to as the “Arab Spring.” Social media played an important role in allowing a movement to spread and permit the oppressed majority to topple the dictatorial minority. From a marketing perspective, I am suggesting the reverse … that there should be a social movement strategy and execution within social media. Social media success depends on this for its success.

A social movement is aimed at a call to action to change a current state. In the traditional sense of marketing, there has been a focus at moving a target market down the marketing funnel (awareness-consideration-sale). As I have previously suggested, the marketing funnel may have seen its day. But we still want to cause movements from our target market as it relates to our brand. For social media, this movement is relationship based and seeks to accomplish word of mouth marketing.

Let’s first reflect on the social movement as witnessed in the Arab Spring. Why did this happen? I’d suggest the mix of three important attributes:

The will of the people. This is probably the most important aspect. If there is no will of the people, the people will likely not participate in a movement. Whether you are a governing body or a brand, you must serve the people as opposed to serving your own self interest. If not, the common democracy will look to oust you.

Value Proposition
What is the value of the change that is suggested or sought? If it does not create something better for the target market, there is no motivation. The stronger the value, the greater that the target segment will fight, go out of their way, or push for the objective.

Leaders of a movement need to position their offering in a way that is most compelling to the audience they seek to capture. A good position allows the value proposition to be easily understood with regards to the benefits that will be obtained and the differentiation of what is being proposed.

Now bring these three elements to a social media program. Social media should not be about posting on Facebook and Twitter. From a brand perspective, it should be about causing some change. Some movement to the overall objectives of the brand. Some call to action.

We continue to hear pundits evaluate whether social media is a successful and/or worthwhile business endeavor. When doing so, are they looking at social media activities carried on by experienced marketers? Professionals that have experience driving business objectives? You can’t put social media responsibility in the hands of someone that does not have marketing experience and simply knows how to use social media channels.

I saw an interesting interview this week that touches on this issue. The passionate Gary Vaynerchuk was talking about “Why ROI Matters for Social Media.” He was talking about the stupidity of putting social media responsibility in the hands of some that lacked business experience and said, “Your 22-year-old did not use Facebook the last three years to do business. He did it to, like, look at chicks’ bikini pictures.” Maybe a bit dramatic, but you get the point.

So as everyone will be doing their end of year evaluation and New Year predictions, one of the things that many will mention is the 2011 year of social movement and the importance that social media played in the related events. I say yes … there were monumental events. As I look to 2012, I am pushing for some exceptional business results. My recommendation is to learn from this past year and use it to drive success in 2012. Understand the relationship between social movement and social media. Turn it inside out. Make sure your social media strategy and execution are developed based on a focus of causing a social movement. Understand the will of the people, have a value proposition for social media programs such that people share your content and you win earned media, and make sure you position your social activities in a most compelling way for your target audience. This is the definition of true marketing and social media integration.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve


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