And Just What Exactly Are YOU Waiting For?

Submitted by Kip on Wed, 03/03/2010

I’ve been a marketer for 30 years and have lived in Silicon Valley since 2002. I’ve assumed marketers have reached the logical conclusion they are going to have to make significant changes to the way they listen and respond to their customers via the explosive growth of various social media channels, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.

But this view is not universally shared by marketers…not at all. Too many marketers don’t see the need to change what they’ve traditionally done…it’s too early or too risky.

Besides, since marketing budgets are tight and their teams are stretched thin as it is, social media doesn’t rank very high on their “must do” list.

Here are some fun facts for marketers still not sure if social media is a fad or a fundamental change to the media landscape:

• Facebook now has 175m users every 24 hours (out of the 400m who have registered) and is available in 70 different languages
• Twitter has 15m active users and is being used more and more by companies (such as Zappos) to handle customer service issues faster and more effectively than traditional means (such as phone or email)
• LinkedIn has over 50m members worldwide and is the most popular site for business contacts
• Wikipedia has in excess of 14m articles and it’s 85,000 contributors have written nearly a million new posts in the just the past six months.

So does this mean your company should just jump into the social media waters and start swimming (as many have done)? Not at all. As with any sustained marketing effort, it’s critical to first start with several strategic questions:

• What’s your overall objective for your social media efforts over the next 12 months? Over the next 3 years?
• What are you trying to accomplish with your social media activities (i.e. awareness, trial, increase level of recommendations, solicit customer ideas, engage more with key customers, etc)?
• Who are you trying to reach and what are their current social media habits?
• Which of the numerous social media channels are you going to focus on and why?
• How are you going to integrate your social media plans with the rest of your marketing plans?
• How are you going to measure your results (e.g. there are a growing number of tools and ways to do this, including amount of traffic, sentiment, etc)?

These are just a few of the questions to consider in developing your social media strategy and plans. But once you’ve answered them, the time to get started is NOW.

While she's not a professional marketer, perhaps the pop singer Gwen Stefani says it best in her song:

Tick-tock, tick-tock
Tick-tock, tick-tock
Tick-tock, tick-tock
Tick-tock, tick-tock
What you waiting
What you waiting
What you waiting
What you waiting
What you waiting for?

Social media is one area of marketing that’s rapidly evolving and there are definitely rewards to those brands and marketers who figure out what works best first. I hope you're not one of the ones who looks back and wonders what exactly you were waiting for to get started.