The integration of social media marketing as a core component of an organization’s promotional program is still very much in the early adopter phase.
In my new business travels, I typically come across three scenarios at a prospective client:
1. A handful of innovators have engaged via blogs, Twitter and social networks, creating a disjointed, tools-oriented effort.
2. A disciplined, strategic initiative has been defined and put in place, yet its scope, duration and funding are limited.
3. There is no measurable involvement with the marketing folks often citing legal and/or financial considerations for the failure to participate in social media.
This is why my enthusiasm leaps when I come across a carefully crafted program run by a well respected, global brand. Market leaders tend to instill confidence among the masses in an emerging medium like social media.
Consider American Express’ OPEN Forum which publishes a wonderful portfolio of best practices, resources and thought leadership for small business owners. The site even sports a measurable sales component with an appropriately positioned option for a reader to apply for an American Express card.
My enthusiasm for everything OPEN Forum quickly turned to horror when I came across this Q&A with Jason Rudman, the program’s director of strategy and marketing.
Specifically, it was this comment from Rudman when queried about the goals of this comprehensive social media initiative:
Engage business owners in a new set of experiences that increase loyalty, value perception, and relevance of our brand and continue to lead in the online engagement space to attract partners, so as to ultimately create additional compelling benefits for Cardmembers and convert prospects.
Yes…I recognize those words to be part of the English language. However, they’ve been organized in a way that most likely makes little sense to a typical C-level executive who is responsible for the evaluation and funding of social media programs.
While American Express may be concerned about “value perception” and leadership in the “online engagement space,” most organizations are bit more real-world in their focus.
How can social media be leveraged to support lead generation and sales? Improve search engine optimization? Gather competitive intelligence?
For social media marketing to make the jump from experimental to the list of must-do communications programs, respected companies like American Express need to attach more measurable benchmarks to their efforts.
Hey Jason, drop the brand-only mumbo jumbo. Tell us how OPEN has helped American Express identify new customers.