Understanding Online Behavior Is The Screw That Tightens SMM Strategies

What business goals can social media help your company achieve?

Brand exposure and increased engagement are workable goals. But what about customer service? Is this opportunity woven into your social marketing strategy?

Mike Proulx, senior vice president and director of social media at Hill Holliday, says, “Far beyond a clever tweet, people want great products and service, and they want to feel heard.”

I agree. But do we have any data on this? Decision makers need data!


Forrester’s Nate Elliott, for one, is lending a hand.

The average online American fits into Forrester’s ‘Social Snackers’ category — they don’t shy away from social interactions with brands and companies, but neither do they frequently seek out such interactions. Marketers targeting this audience should treat social tools as a secondary, rather than a primary, part of their marketing plan.

Are your customers and prospects social snackers? The probability is high. But they may fall into one of Forrester’s other categories: Skippers, Savvies or Stars.

Back to Proulx’s contention for a moment. I agree that people want to be heard and cared for by customer service reps, online and in person. But how does this jive with Forrester’s Snacker persona? Do Snackers, who are in the majority, want deep engagement with brands they follow online? I think the answer is yes, but only when it matters. When there’s a billing dispute or a service error of some sort, it matters.

Given how many of us are Snackers, what are brands are doing all day, every day in social media channels?

There’s no doubt that the chance to add value is there, staring every brand in the face. But effectively delivering on the promise of SMM means coming up with the perfect mix of social updates for your clearly identified audience (see above) — say 30% brand building, 50% conversational/relationship building, and 20% promotional, or whatever ratios your market situation calls for.

One pro who knows what the situation calls for is Pete Blackshaw, global head of digital marketing and social media at Nestlé.

People tend to romanticize social media, fans and followers, but there are some really difficult operational questions that need to be asked. How do you ensure you’re properly staffing and resourcing and responding, and doing so 24/7? And with nearly 170 million fans across over 750 brand pages on Facebook alone, this is no easy task.

…Social media is a reflection of brand love, or in some cases issues that people have with brands. It’s kind of a mirror into brand equity, brand performance, brand reputation. The question is, to what extent will the brands proactively manage it or seek to amplify it?

The big takeaway here is the need for rigor and discipline in social media marketing. That’s what clients like Nestlé who spend tens of millions on social media marketing demand and deserve.

Previously on AdPulp: Brand Babble Is Social Media Pollution



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.