Thursday, June 27, 2013

Can Meaninfulness Be a Strategy? - Social Media Strategy

Young customers have been notoriously difficult more and more for marketers to reach. If I look myself, I really don't spend time on watching TV commercials but on engaging my phone or logging on emails and social networks.That's why most company initiated social network marketing and more than half plan to devote as much as 25% of budgets to eMarketings such as mobile and social marketing. It seems obvious that the company should develop some sort of social media strategy to capture its customers particularly the young and women.

Then the question is the company really harness its power and network correctly and efficiently. Or are company's facebook updates opted out and spammed from their Followers or Fans? Then how the company can creat fans and maintian them. How to make their post viral by not overusing 'discount promotion' tactics. In the long run, I believe they should convey some meaningful messages all along the way. For instance, it can be about more meaningful work, economics, politics, society, and organization. It can be promises radically more meaningful: to make stuff matter like Levi's Water Less Jean my team would present in the class.

However currently, most "social media" strategies have one or more of three goals: to "push product," "build buzz," or "engage consumers." They're just slightly cleverer ways to sell more of the same old junk. But the great challenge of the 21st century is making stuff radically better in the first place — stuff that creates what I've been calling thicker value. In other words, none of these lives up to the Internet's promise of "meaning".

Decades ago, people actually didn't need "meangfulness" when to buy something. Industrial era business was "meaningless". It fits most organizations to a T — from Wall Street to Detroit to Big Pharma to Big Food to Big Energy. Some research suggest that 95% of organizations are unable to offer socially useful stuff that creates meaningful value for people, communities, and tomorrow's generations. Simply put, they didn't need to. Given the social media is changing not only marketing channels but also customers' mind enoromusly, companies now need that- a meaningful message.

Then how to do that? Here are couple of social strategies to create meaniful messages for the orgnizations by Umair Haque at Havard Business Review.

Character. Most organizations have no character, in the traditional sense of the word. They'll never stand up for what's right, noble, or true.The character strategy utilizes social tools to help an organizations develop a moral compass, often via ethical accelerators. For example, Gwilym Davies' disloyalty card, which rewards coffee-drinkers for trying out other local cafés. Now that's a coffeeshop with character.

Control. Most organizations are run by bosses. By contrast, an organization with a social control strategy radically decentralizes decision-making, giving the control that was formerly vested in echelons upon echelons of managers directly to people, communities, and society. Think Threadless, whose corporate anarchy is upsetting the tired, increasingly profitless clothes market.

Creativity. Most organizations are, from an economic perspective, brain-dead: they are unable to come up with newer, better ideas consistently and reliably. The result is that they defend old ones tooth and nail: a formidable source of antisocial behavior. The creativity strategy hinges on utilizing social tools to explode how imaginative organizations are. Lego's social approach to toy production and consumption — textbook awesomeness — has turned the table on its rivals, by giving Lego the capacity to be more imaginative than they can be.

Culture. Culture is how an organization makes sense of the world, a set of assumptions internalized by all its members. Most organizations are the cultural equivalent of stone age tribes: focused on "the hunt," "the kill," and what's for dinner today. Like stone age tribes, they're fractious, unproductive, and easily broken. In the culture strategy, social tools are used to help an organization make better sense of the world. Accountability, roles, tasks, processes, incentives — that's what shapes culture, and in the culture strategy, social tools are utilized to reconceive them. Wal-Mart's Sustainability Index is a radical example of a culture-changer, altering all of the above, helping Wal-Mart's entire ecosystem make sense of the world anew.

Clarity. The clarity strategy is perhaps the simplest. Most organizations are flying blind: they have limited visibility about changes in the marketplace. Social tools are a powerful way to gain clarity: better, faster information about what's happening not just in the boardroom, but in the real world. Good example of clarity is Google's rapid, frequent, consistent experimentation. Because of it, Google always has more clarity about what really creates meaningful value — and what really doesn't — than rivals. Here's a tiny example of Google helping searchers gain clarity on hotel pricing using Google Maps.

Cohesion. Relationship inflation is the most visible sign of social media decay. The cohesion strategy says: in relationships, seek quality, not quantity. One of my favorite recent examples of cohesion is "Tummling" — the art of social engagement. It's a form of moderation pioneered by Heather Gold, Deb Schultz, and Kevin Marks. The Tummler's job, Kevin says, is "setting the tone and establishing the norm," deciding who speaks where and when, summarizing, and synthesizing. The goal of Tummling is to help dialogue happen — and make relationships not merely inflate, but cohere, thicken, blossom, and mature.

Choreography. Most organizations seek "high performance." Today, performance is no longer enough: excelling in yesterday's terms is excelling at the wrong things. Today's radical innovators aren't merely mute performers, precisely executing the empty steps of a meaningless dance: they're more like choreographers. Choreographers define the steps of a better dance — they lay down better rules for interactions between supply and demand to take place. Yelp's getting its choreography wrong, failing to build a better dialogue between buyers and sellers (instead of just isolated, drive-by "reviews"). Etsy's still on the brink of greatness, pioneering highly productive relationships between buyers and sellers. Another example is M-Pesa, which lays down a new choreography for finance: from person to person, instead of bank to bank.

As described, social media strategy fits inside a marketing (business, corporate) strategy, and is shaped by it. Social strategy fits outside business and corporate strategies, and shapes them. Social strategies are about rewriting the logic of the industrial era entirely, shifting gears in how we think, envisioning a broader, more powerful, more challenging use of social tools. They are about developing the capacity to understand an organization's role in society, and how to play a more constructive one, wielding sociality as a source of advantage.

All in all, some sense of meanigfulness should be something wraping up strategies and tactics especially when it comes to harnessing power of social media. Hopefully, it may work for Levi's too as acting radically more meaningfully than its harsh rivals, because the company seems to have character and culture already!

From Social Media to Social Strategy

Venkatesh Shankar and Sridhar Balasubramanian (2009), “Mobile Marketing: ASynthesis and Prognosis”,Journal of Interactive Marketing, 23 (2): 118

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