Why You Win When You Move Social Media Beyond Marketing

This might come as a shock to you. If you’re using social media only for marketing, then you’re losing the marketing game. You win when you move social media beyond marketing.

Paradoxically, taking social media beyond marketing your products means using social media to market your whole company.

Yes, that’s correct. The way to move social media beyond marketing your products (or services) is to use social media to, in effect, market your entire company. Your culture. Your people. Your corporate social responsibility. Your customer service. Your executive leadership. Your events. Your everything.

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Why You Win When You Move Social Media Beyond Marketing

Social media are more than marketing venues. They fundamentally change how you communicate and interact with your audiences.

You know how immediate, ad hoc social media bring authenticity. For example, your brand voice becomes more human because it’s more likely to reflect how people speak, not how they write. It also delivers transparency because of its ubiquity; you can’t hide from it.

Simply, today your audiences expect you to use social media to talk about your whole company, not just the products you sell.

Make a name for yourself: use social media to talk about your whole company Click To Tweet

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Don’t Take My Word for It

In the Forrester report, ‘You Don’t Need a Social Media Strategy,’ Melissa Parrish writes, “While marketing is typically at the forefront of social media application, limiting social media to marketing limits its benefits for your business.” She coauthored the report with Brigitte Majewski and Wei-Ming Egelman.

“But social media can offer brands far more than just marketing value,” she writes. “Social technology helps companies transform for the post-digital world.” She adds, “Companies that embed social technology into their culture as their customers do in their own lives discover that separating out what’s ‘social’ becomes impossible. Social technologies — and the open, collaborative and iterative mindset that comes with them — become a key piece of your post-digital transformation when they facilitate transparent human interactions everywhere within your company and between it and your customers.”

Lead the Effort to Move Social Media Beyond Marketing

Sure, take pride in the fact that as a marketer, you have led the way in adopting social media. Just don’t stop there. Become the champion of social media adoption across your whole company.

So, how do you do this?

Start with earnings reports and other corporate news. Fold in your community activities—from volunteer activities to the annual United Way fund drive. Add your talent needs and new-hire training graduations. Remember your industry awards. In short, add whatever helps your community at large get to know the people who comprise your corporation.

Then, plan how to allocate your team for social media support. Ideally, you’ll be able to hire someone.

Yes, it’s a big program expansion. In my experience, it works best when the non-marketing community manager has direct, two-way communications with HR, sales, community relations, and other significant parts of the organization.

Perhaps hiring someone isn’t in the budget. Or, you want to trial the expanded program. In these cases, consider using employees as social media agents. You may also need to train these agents on best practices and basic how-to’s. Of course, if you haven’t yet formally adopted social media guidelines, now’s the time to put that in place also.

More Tactical Considerations

Of  course you’ll need to allocate your social media real estate to include all of these additional parts of the organization. A complete editorial calendar can help you track your expanded program, without shorting your marketing program. You’ll also want to adhere to best practices for posting frequency and mix of company versus third-party content. There are many different options. The best answer depends on too many variables for me to address here.

An expanded program does not demand more social media platforms. But, an additional platform may aid it. Ultimately, the correct answer rests on your corporate needs and strategies. If you don’t expand your platforms while expanding your range of topics, be prepared for a land-grab. Those who fear they have something to lose will have a lot to say about any changes to your social media platform usage! So will those who feel they have something to gain! Further, if you add a social platform, you can count on your marketing team wanting to use it too.


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Take Action Now to Move Social Media Beyond Marketing

Social media are omnipresent. They affect every type of corporate interaction. They change the balance of communication. Communication used to be largely one-way, fixed, and planned. Now, it is two-way, dynamic, and ad-hoc. As such, social media have changed how, when, where, and what you communicate within and about your organization. Finally, they have altered how your community at large understands you. As a result, they have changed your communities’ expectations of you.

Social media shine light on hidden parts of your organization. The question is, will you help your stakeholders better understand your organization? Or, will you let them find information on their own, and draw their own conclusions? Start with a review of your strategy, budget, and staffing. Then make decisions about platforms and allocations. As always, bake in your benchmarks, metrics, milestones, and of course, your goals.

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If you are only using social media to support your marketing, start now to reach your community at large.

It’s a big project. There’s lots of moving parts and corporate considerations. I’ve spent 15 years building business-to-business social media programs and I’d like to help you build yours.

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