I’m surveying technology marketers about how they view the role of social computing in the marketing plan. Here’s a few early observations:

The impact of experience: Those new to adding social media to the marketing communications mix cite lead generation as a primary goal. The ‘veterans’ position social media primarily for brand awareness and thought leadership. 

Companies toward the commodity status of the value chain (despite status as newbie or veteran) tend to cite lead generation and revenue as primary motives for investments in social media.  Companies further up the value chain – that sell higher margin, more customized IT solutions, cite thought leadership and brand awareness as their primary motives.

Measuring the impact of social media. Half my respondants said they use pipeline and revenue as metrics. The other half admitted they are not even trying to measure the impact of social media at this time. In fact, one respondant, Mike Pallagi, who heads up social media for Axway, said he probably never will …. commenting that trying to measure social media’s investment return is like trying to measure the value of desks and chairs  .. you just gotta have ’em.

Positioning social media in the communications mix. Marketers admit that once you’ve starting using social media as a hard promotional tool, it’s tough to start trading up into the thought leadership realm. Others also commented that “trading down” … that is, moving social media’s role from thought leadesrhip down into hard promotion also created challenges.

So think hard about what you want to do with this stuff. Once you start, you could bruise the brand if you try to switch gears. Granted, many vendors use social media for both thought leadership and promotion. HP being one, IBM being another.

But both firms tend to accompany promotional uses with points-of-view. So I suppose you could say they are hybrid users which makes sense given the broad range of products they offer from pure commodity to high-margin consulting.

1 Comment
  1. 14 May 2009 at 2:17 pm
    Laura McLellan says:

    One of the earliest successful users of social media was Sun Microsystems, who used it to build stronger communities and enhance the customer experience.

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