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What Role Should Social Media Play
as Part of the Marketing Mix?

By Pete Krainik
CEO of The CMO Club

For me, the three biggest objectives for working with any community—social or not—is to engage, educate, and inspire your customers and stakeholders. Social media simply allows for easier community access and reach than other face-to-face communities.

Engage: In today's world, the role of identifying and engaging advocates and influencers (industry bloggers, etc.) is a priority for leveraging social media. In addition, the marketing mix needs to focus inward on your employees and partners. The growth of social media has significantly increased the value of an engaged, motivated employee and partner base, and resources need to be planned and allocated for engaging them. This is not an HR or corporate communications role, but must be led by marketing.

Educate: Leverage the power of your communities to educate your customers. Education via advocates and influencers, again, is critical for successful marketing programs and company growth. Don't leave their support and participation to chance—teach them and help them spread the word.

Inspire: The single biggest change in marketing programs vs. five years ago is the power of social media to inspire employees and partners for program success. If leveraged correctly with transparency and freedom for employees to speak (within a framework), inspiring them about the program and your company can result in improved sales and customer satisfaction.

Everyone looks at Facebook fan pages, Twitter, and mobile programs as the new social media part of the marketing mix. Looking at the power of social media to engage, educate, and inspire beyond the offer must be part of that mix. Social media improves the visibility, velocity, and value (three Vs) of identifying and engaging your advocates and net promoters. Engaging them during marketing programs for quick response and resource shifts can mean the difference between successful campaigns and failed campaigns.

What Role Should Social Media Play
as Part of the Marketing Mix?

By Hollis Thomases
Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day

I look at social media as another tool in the marketer's arsenal of tactics, more like public relations than anything else.

Social media can serve far more purposes than simply getting visibility in the public eye, such as a direct communications channel to crowdsource for answers or customer feedback, provide customer service, spread a message virally, or replace more traditional go-to-market sales methods. Despite these multiplicities, social media in the marketing mix has a lot in common with public relations.

And like public relations, social media might not have an immediate impact on your brand. Though there are case studies of companies with instantaneous success through social media, you should really expect to have to nurture and cultivate your brand over time.

All this being said, there are certainly unique attributes to social media. Even if you don't want to actively participate, you should at the very least be passively monitoring and listening, because there are likely people talking about your products or your brand no matter what you do. If they're saying something negative, you want to step in to do some damage control before the situation blows out of proportion. Social media is also possibly the least expensive focus group around.

Don't get caught up in what clever thing you should do "in" social media, when you might just be better off letting social media work for you.

What Role Should Social Media Play
as Part of the Marketing Mix?

By Patrick Strother
Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota

Like any strategy development, objectives must ultimately determine the role that social media plays in the marketing mix. While the size and nature of the role of social media varies considerably depending on the goals of the program, what does not vary is my belief that social media always seems to offer a cost-effective way to at least amplify key elements of the marketing program. In most cases, I recommend social media to strategically augment a program, rather than drive it.

For most B2B programs, I see an expanded role beyond traditional marketing into the actual sales support function with social media. This is because of the long and complex selling cycle and need for extensive fulfillment, such as case studies, white papers, and other technical information where SEO can make a B2B offering easily searchable. Social media is also especially well suited to B2B marketing because it is more easily scalable and engagement can be consistently maintained.

I find social media easily integrates throughout all six areas of my convergence model, as shown below.

For example, Riedell Skates has a blog called iSkateRiedell that offers an opportunity for skaters to engage with the company as well as the skating community. They can also connect from the blog to Riedell's Facebook page and the company's main Web site for both figure and roller skating information. Most of the original traffic to these now well-trafficked social media portals was seeded by a conventional print advertising campaign, which had for many years been the primary source of marketing for Riedell. Now social media enhances the opportunity for this brand to directly connect with skaters, coaches, and fans of the sport.

Pete Krainik

Pete Kranik is the founder and Chairman of The CMO Club. He has more than 25 years of experience in marketing, product management, sales, and IT in the high-tech, software, and consumer goods industries. Prior to forming The CMO Club, Pete served as Avaya's Global Vice President of Marketing, the Chief Marketing Officer for DoubleClick, and the GM of the Consumer Goods Division of Siebel Systems. Prior to Siebel, he spent 15 years at Mars, Inc.

Hollis Thomases

Hollis Thomases is the author of the new book, Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day. She is an accomplished public speaker and a contributing columnist for ClickZ. Hollis was named the 2007 SBA Maryland Small Business Person of the Year, 2008 Enterprising Woman of the Year by Enterprising Women magazine, and recently made the Baltimore Business Journal's List of Baltimore's Top 50 Women-Owned Businesses.

Patrick Strother

Patrick Strother is a Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota. He is also the Principal at Strother Communications Group (SCG). Patrick is a thought leader in the integration of research, branding, public relations, advertising, social media, and direct marketing. He created the proprietary "Converging on Customers" model to help guide SCG in the long term.