Monday, September 29, 2008

Strategic View of Social Media

Companies like Dell and Comcast have gotten plenty of applause for their use of social media to engage customers and more quickly respond to criticism posted in online forums.

For instance, earlier this month Dell scored a profile in Fortune that lauded their use of Web 2.0 technologies to help “turn the company” around. The article included a sidebar that overviewed the innovative use of social media by three other global companies – Ernst & Young, Best Buy and Intuit.

Beyond the coolness factor of social media, what strikes me as relevant about the programs cited by Fortune is that each company aligned its efforts with a well defined and measurable business goal.

In Dell’s case, their IdeaStorm site helps improve product development. Ernst & Young’s use of Facebook is all about employee recruitment. Best Buy’s BlueShirt Nation is internal communications. And Intuit’s TurboTax Live is a community customer support initiative.

I do buy into the value of social media as a branding and awareness vehicle, especially when it is aligned with a search engine optimization strategy. Yet, this channel of communications truly becomes “strategic” when positioning, messaging, tactics and benchmarks address a business goal.

1 comment:

Olivier Riviere said...

Hi Marc,

Your comment is right spot on!

For marketers, social media is a tool, and a tool takes its meaning only once you have a business goal, a sense of your target audience's needs, and clarity on what you want to communicate. The great thing about social media is that in essence, it is not any longer about communication but about establishing and maintaining a dialog. The Dell example is all about an authentic dialog with the customers (I can't comment on the others but I would bet they also present this charactetistic).