It’s perhaps interesting many of the marketers who are taking social media seriously are seeing a campaign platform rather than a fundamental change in the way the business communicates and, indeed, behaves. That’s fair enough, it’s a wise person who dips a toe in the water before going for the full-on dive bomb and it doesn’t take the wildest imagination to see what’s going to happen to Young Roger as he faces the directors in the mahogany-panelled boardroom and suggests they might like to gamble the future of the company on Twitter.
But a campaign-led approach to social media really does need to be framed in the context of a wider move to adopt social platforms to transform the company’s communications, it can’t just be a tactic.
That does mean writing a new rulebook and challenging some very entrenched attitudes and procedures – it’s an early adopters game, too, requiring a willingness to take a transformational approach to aspects of the business. It can be a two-track process of gradual change, there’s no need to try and change the world overnight, but it does have to involve an element of change. Declaring that you’re cool and down with the kids then running a Twitter competition to win a super prize is not what social media’s about – and neither is tacking a Facebook page onto the tail end of that expensive regional TV and outdoor campaign.
Agencies and clients alike have to be careful of 2.0wash – the temptation to stick a blog, Facebook fan page and Twitter ID on every pitch PPT. Although that might sell to the credulous, it’s not doing the client any favours in the long run, just creating a range of disparate, off-message and wild communications with no follow-through. You wouldn’t recommend that kind of behaviour with a ‘conventional’ campaign, so why do so with social media?
Without a planned, consistent communications strategy behind it, a social media campaign as a tactic is in very real danger of making the client look flaky. And social media, incidentally, has evolved a very special way of treating such campaigns – public scorn.
This piece originally appeared as one of the chucklesomely named 'A Moment with McNabb' columns in Campaign Middle East magazine, which doesn't have a website so I have to post 'em on my own blog. Ironic, I know.