The SOBCON presentation “Integrating Social Media into the Larger Mix” that I gave on Saturday sparked quite a discussion at the event as well as on Twitter. Here is a brief narrative version to accompany the deck, which is also embedded in this post.
Integrated marketing communications (IMC) theory and campaigns were very common until the disruptive nature of social media. IMC was a big movement in the 90s to ensure that all outbound communications worked together. For example, AOL used banner ads, store displays, direct mail CDs, newspaper inserts, PR, etc. to become the number one dial-up service in America.
As social media has arisen, we’ve come across the strange duopoly of social media experts who are tactically proficient and corporate communicators who don’t know what to do with two-way communications. The resulting confluence creates a stand-alone silo where social media is experimented with and regarded as a shiny object. In essence, it’s not safe to (or unfathomable to) integrate social media as part of the natural, larger communications mix.
The problem lies in that people don’t consume media in a single-track fashion. People don’t use just Twitter, they participate in multiple social media conversations in different places. Further, they use more than just social media. They read traditional media properties, watch TV, see billboard ads, listen to the radio, etc., etc. It’s a multichannel world.
Complicating this matter is the ROI problem. Business efforts in social media are confounded by how to demonstrate actual results that impact the bottom line or drive perception change. It’s really hard to make a conversation into something more than that… Unless you can create ways and means for people to do more than just talk.
That provides the ideal opportunity to use social media and content as a form of relationship building and attraction. Coupled with non-intrusive “soft-sell” calls-to-action provided through more traditional forms of media, conversations can become more and turn into “results.” In that sense, the social media conversation turns into the top of a self-identified prospect funnel. To progress deeper into the funnel, our stakeholders have to trust our organizations and the people behind them. Then they may want to opt into a deeper conversation or discussion.
Here are some forms of traditional calls-to-action that can be used:
Of course, social media can be used as a call to action within traditional forms of communication. It only makes sense. Again, consider that people don’t single track their media usage. So as communicators, why should we?