Social Media Marketing Is Two-Way Talk
Andrew J. Rohm, professor of marketing and business law in the College of Business Administration, and Michael Weiss ’95 are the authors of “Herding Cats: A Strategic (and Timeless) Perspective on Harnessing the Power of Social Media.” Rohm also is co-director of LMU’s M-School, a program that offers advertising and marketing education with an emphasis on digital and social media. Weiss launched one of the first digital agencies on the West Coast in 1997 and remained the CEO for 14 years, working with clients such as Disney, Estee Lauder, General Electric, Fox, and others. Rohm was interviewed by John Kissell.
Is there a definition of “success” when it comes to marketing and branding with social media? Is it measured by aggregate numbers or is there something deeper?
Organizations and brands must recognize that the traditional customer funnel, where we take a linear path from exposure to a product or service to actual purchase, is no longer an accurate depiction of how consumers today behave. The definition of success for social media lies in its ability to engage prospective or current customers through compelling content, provide a forum with which to post and share content, and interact directly with consumers at real-time events or even service or product failures. Two brands that do this amazingly well are Zappos and the irreverent clothing brand Betabrand. Of course, it helps that social media activity is measurable and trackable over time.
Negative stories and comments on social media seem more prevalent than when advertising was limited to traditional media; how does a company deal with the risk of widespread criticism?
Companies and their brands have long attempted to manage negative publicity, yet it’s much more difficult to do so today because customers are now so much more dialed in and because we have so many more ways to complain. That’s why Michael Weiss, my co-author, came up with the concept of the engagement alert response system, or EARS, to help organizations deal with these issues by examining how brands and consumers interact via social media over time.
Do you think that social media is more valuable because you can learn what your customers actually think about your product or service or because of the increased ways to tell people about your product or service? In other words, is it more useful in research and development than it is in advertising?
Successful social strategies attempt to do both. It should be viewed as a two-pronged tool or platform with which to 1) communicate and engage with your customers and 2) to monitor and learn from this engagement about your product or service offerings and ways to improve them.
What is the worst misconception that entrepreneurs have about how using social media can help one’s business?
Speaking strictly about entrepreneurs — someone involved in a brand new venture — one big risk we see is diving into social media in advance of nailing down those other really important elements of the venture, such as the product or service itself, as well as other marketing fundamentals, such as pricing and even distribution. Another common trap is to make a big splash on social and not having a content strategy to keep up the ongoing communication.
In terms of future innovation, do you ever hear business leaders and entrepreneurs say something like, “If only someone could figure out how make social media do such-and-such, it would revolutionize my business”? And what is it they’d like to see take shape?
I’d like to see social media platforms that wake me up in a good mood, that cook my breakfast and walk my dogs, and that drive my kids to school. Actually, for businesses, an overlooked area of social media is in the area of enterprise or business collaboration tools — in other words bringing social media to the workplace. IBM is one major company leading the charge to bring social tools, such as video hosting and distribution, to companies, enabling them to share, collaborate, and learn more effectively and efficiently. Think of it as Facebook meets YouTube for social business.
Do you use social media in your work as a professor?
Yes, all the time! For our M-School program, Facebook and LinkedIn are important conduits to reach our students, our recent alumni and industry. Facebook allows us to curate relevant industry content and to promote or publicize M-School happenings and events. We’ve also formed an M-School LinkedIn community comprised of key stakeholders, including current and recently graduated M-School students, industry professionals, including hiring managers, recruiters and HR directors who are actively posting and seeking new talent.
Follow Andrew Rohm on Twitter @arohm and Michael Weiss @mikepweiss.