Mark McDonald

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Mark P. McDonald
GVP EXP
8 years at Gartner
24 years IT industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a former group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs. He is the co-author of The Social Organization with Anthony Bradley. Read Full Bio

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Beyond social media marketing, Part 1

by Mark P. McDonald  |  September 10, 2012  |  5 Comments

Social media and marketing gets all the attention.  Ask business leaders about social media and often they will speak about its use at a technology for customer communications, marketing and sales. Early posts on this blog discussed the need for social media technology to go beyond marketing applications.  Extending the use of social media technology into a role in mass collaboration to achieve business results is an important for social media’s continued relevance and success.

Extending social media technologies role in marketing, sales and service is likewise critical particularly as leaders look to see the value of continued marketing expenditures on social media platforms.

One has to ask if the first generation of social media marketing – attention getting is running its course.    In January 2012, the Coca-Cola Company made a media splash with its marketing campaign to generate more than 35 million likes on Facebook. The announcement was heralded in traditional media, but little mention was made if all of those ‘likes’ actually result in more sales.  Sure people who ‘like’ the product drink more, but the question is did they drink even more after they acknowledged liking the product. Who knows?  That appears to be one of the issues in GM’s $10 million cut  in advertising on Facebook because “it does not work” provided an answer for that product category.  These and other experiences should raise questions about the future of social media in marketing.

  • Should social media continue to concentrate on generating media attention?
  • Does social media work across all product categories?
  • Is social media limited to high frequency, low complexity products like soft drinks and other consumables?
  • What is required to have social media work for more complex products like financial services or durable products and services?

Generating attention for your brand and product is one step in marketing strategy and processes.  It is an important step.  People cannot buy your product if they do not know you exist.  But it is not the only step in the process, nor is it the major part of the customer experience.  Marketers, executives and technologies have picked up their heads and started thinking about what lies beyond social media marketing.

The answer is important if social media is to continue to evolve and expand its role in key issues such as customer acquisition, retention and value realization.  Those are some of the challenges that lie beyond social media marketing 101 that will be the focus of the next post.

Before that, what do you think?  Has social media marketing based on ‘likes’ run its course?  Does liking a product mean that you really identify with it in the same way as you identify with other brands?  Does social media marketing really fit in with more sophisticated, complex or infrequently purchased products?

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