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Everything might be changing, but everything hasn’t changed

June 21, 2011

It’s easy to get caught up in the momentum of digital media. In the last 5 years, things have been changing fast in the world of marketing – especially when it comes to digital. More people are getting smart phones – little computers in their pockets that are more powerful than the ones on their desktops in 2001. Marketers have been experimenting with digital media executions, since it’s been pretty clear that online banner ads aren’t good at getting people to click.

Still, when it comes to successful ‘new media’ executions, we’ve seen:

These success stories, and the intrigue behind them, made marketers think any brand can and should engage in social/digital media. All that said, it’s never really been clear if any of the above sold more Big Macs or shoes.

But, marketers experimented with digital. However, since doing some of the things listed above are really hard, most marketers have opted for creating tactical strategies to enhance their brand.

They start a Facebook page. A Twitter feed. A YouTube channel and if it was 3-years ago, a blog.

Tellingly, they don’t create a fake documentary, or an ARG or a wonderful interactive campaign based on a very well executed television commercial. They don’t create a social network from scratch, and they aren’t Coke.

Mixing up tactics with strategy.

The very real danger of just starting a blog or a Facebook page, or a Twitter feed is that a tactic isn’t a strategy. A social media strategy is the wrong thing to call something that is tactical. We don’t run around saying we need a broadcast strategy.

We don’t have a broadcast strategy because we have a communications strategy. Or a marketing strategy. A communications strategy has tactical elements that work together to accomplish objectives.

Think about the communication strategy, and take a look at the digital landscape. Yes, digital can and most-likely should be a part of the communication’s strategy. But so-called social media tactics do not have to be part of it. Either does a traditional website.

But what if people are talking about my brand on social media sites?

They most-likely are. Indeed, with 700 million people on Facebook creating content about everything, they are probably talking about your brand. Or the 110 million posts on Twitter are talking about your brand. But that doesn’t mean the brand should have a Facebook page or a Twitter feed.

It does mean the brand should look and see what people are saying, and factor that into the communications strategy.

This isn’t a thing a brand should do, but again it isn’t a must. Listening is becoming a useful tool for creating marketing plans. Think of the world of social media as a huge focus group of customers talking about the good and bad of a product. Then create a communications plan that fits into what consumers need.

But please remember: there is no such thing as a must-do thing in marketing. That doesn’t mean a brand shouldn’t have a Facebook page – it means that if  brand has a Facebook page, or an ARG, or a fake documentary, or a twitter feed, that tactic fits into an overall communications plan.

All brands must do some form of marketing. And brands should do listening and analytics. These tools can help build an effective communications strategy.

But there isn’t a must-use tactic in marketing. Period. No one would ever say a brand must have a billboard. So why do people say a brand must have a website? Or a Facebook page?

Brands don’t.

What do you think? How does your website fit into your communication’s plan? Has someone said your brand must have a Facebook page?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nigel permalink
    June 28, 2011 9:37 am

    I totally agree with you, Matt, far too many people are mixing up tactics and strategy. It seems to me that speed of change, media hype and an inferiority complex are leading us all to scramble to do stuff without stopping to think whether it makes sense for our brand or not.

  2. June 28, 2011 11:32 am

    Thanks Nigel,

    Thanks for your comment. Chasing the shiny new tactic has been alive and well for years.


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