To integrate is to combine one thing with another to form a whole. It also means bringing people together, participating as members of a social group. Social media activity for business should evoke both these meanings, if it is to be successful as part of a marketing strategy.
Part or Whole?
“It seems to be frequently the case that social media activity is palmed off on an intern or junior member of staff – someone youngish, because the perception is that the concept is very youth-driven – and left alone to fester when it should be driving business growth”
“I think there are misapprehensions about social media and, sometimes, a real fear of it. It gets treated like an external agent, unconnected with core business activity, and this is a big mistake. Rather than being separated off, it should be fully integrated into business development, as an important marketing strategy and activity.”
“Social media can deliver amazing results in terms of audience reach and marketing penetration,” David explains, “but only if it becomes integral to a business, so that it is in line with its overriding goals and objectives.”
Becoming Socially Engaged
Social media actions require a clear customer objective to be effective. In other words, they should be tactics in pursuit of marketing goals. However, the way in which this activity takes place will different from other forms of marketing.
“You can engage with your customers at a personal level, in real-time, and create an ongoing dialogue with them,” David says. “This is integration bringing people together, inviting participation.”
For this to work, a business must be prepared to adapt to the demands of social engagement. This is where difficulties can arise.
“Some companies and organisations are very hierarchical with constrained communications. This kind of top-down model doesn’t lend itself easily to social media involvement because it fails to engage with customers and a wider audience on a personal level”
For social media to work on behalf of a business, the business must be able to develop a natural approach to it, to adopt a tone that will work with the channels it is using, in line with its target audience.
“Using social media is different, which calls for different methods,” David concludes. “At the same time, you need to integrate this approach into your business, to sit at the heart of your strategic decision-making.”