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Say it with Me: 'Social Media is Part of Marketing'

I’ve been hearing a lot about this subject lately: “Are we just attracted to social media because it’s instant gratification?” or better yet "Do Campaign Failures put an end to Social Media.

We’ve all got our opinions so here’s mine. Social media is part of the marketing mix and should be treated like all the other areas of your marketing strategy. If you’re running an integrated campaign that includes advertising, direct marketing and interactive it may make sense to weave social in. It depends. Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish? Social has to make sense for your brand. Take a step back and consider the following:

  • What’s the strategy of your campaign?
  • What is your marketing strategy?
  • How are you reaching customers today?
  • Who are your target customers?
  • What are your digital efforts? Web? Mobile? Advertising? Interactive?
  • How can you get that human element—that emotional connection into your marketing?

The power of social media is making that connection with another person. As a brand you can connect with your existing clients and future clients. It’s very empowering to know that you can tweet your insurance company a question, compliment or compliant and they will answer you back. It feels good to connect with your favorite brands and brands that are referred to you, receive their updates and be able to communicate with thought-leaders in that business.

I was traveling last week and stayed at one of my favorite hotels. I’m a member of their loyalty program which makes me feel special. I get a selection of newspapers, complimentary coffee and juices delivered every morning, free shirt pressing and special rates. When my husband and I had dinner at the hotel restaurant we had a certain level of expectation. When our expectation wasn’t met I immediately said I’m posting a review. I posted my review on Yelp and sent a tweet to the hotel letting them know I had a bad experience. I had a response within minutes. I emailed the hotel with more details and the next day a cheese plate and bottle of wine were delivered to our room. A few minutes later the head of Food and Beverage called to invite us back for dinner. So we went. The experience was delightful and we left happy and full.

What’s the lesson here? Human connection. This brand did not solve my problem online; they took it offline and used good old, fashioned customer service. They wowed me. I felt appreciated and my faith in that brand was restored. Remember, you are on social to connect, connect and re-connect. It’s going to be good and bad. Be prepared. Be willing to acknowledge your mistakes, fix problems and help your clients. That’s what every business does: makes their customers happy. I don’t care if you’re a B2B or B2C company—get over it. We all have customers and we all have to make them happy.

Back to my opening comment, social media is part of the marketing mix. Say that with me. Once you start thinking about social media this way your perspective will change. I agree with Doug Stephens of Retail Prophet, social media won’t save your business. You’ve got to look deep inside your company and figure out what’s right for you. If your brand is suffering fix it. Social media isn’t going to fix it. Social media doesn’t replace all your traditional media; it enhances, enriches and connects you in a way you’ve never been connected before. Get ready because it’s not going away and will continue to evolve.


Join The Conversation

  • Bernard Martin's picture
    Apr 28 Posted 6 years ago Bernard Martin


    I agree with everything that you have talked about with regard the the power of Social Media and how it is most definitely part of marketing.  But in the larger scheme of things it's also part of many other company departments as well.  Your example of the restaurant and Yelp posting is a great example of how Social Media is actually easier to manage for smaller organizations than it might be for @NixonVS's example of Lipton. Smaller companies are more nimble and less hierarchical. 

    I suspect that as we see Social Media adoption rates continue within larger organizations there is going to be a increased need for collaboration between departments to include customer service, sales, etc.  Marketing may not know how to answer a question or respond to a comment such as the one posited by @NixonVS other than the "form letter" response that has been acceptable in the anonymous ether world of email.  Now that everyone can see the 'canned' responses, marketing departments are quickly recognizing that not answering the direct, specific question with a direct answer, is bad for the brand. 

    However, customer service and/or sales may face the same question every day. Not trying to be self-promoting here on your post, but I detailed out some thoughts on this very subject some time back with an article entitled  "Who leads the charge in Social Media? Maketing, PR, Sales, Customer Service? How Knows?"

    I agree 100% that a Social Media strategy is absolutely necessary.  But having an tactical implementation plan and knowing how departments will interact is going to be an absolute necessity very very quickly and marketing departments should be thinking about how they can work more closely with those department who have more experience with face-to-face one-on-one.  I suspect that this can present some problems.  Right now, what happens face-to-face doesn't require a legal or PR department vetting every word.  Smaller companies can make on-the-fly decisions. Larger companies are not quite as nimble.  

    "We have met the enemy and they are ours!"
    -- Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry

  • Oscar Del Santo's picture
    Apr 26 Posted 6 years ago Oscar Del Santo

    Dear WENDY:

    Thank you for a brilliant post. It is hard at times to make people understand that social media strategy is not about scheming, spin-doctoring or trying to con people but about making sure we establish a relationship with our target audience that leads to feedback and positive improvements.

    Congratulations on your post and I look forward to more in the future!

  • jslevin's picture
    Apr 24 Posted 6 years ago jslevin

    The human connection rules. Why are we not surprised? Why though so many forget this in rush to create a great dashboard is surprising. Of course Social should be a part of any responsible media marketing mix. The question is rather not if it shoud but rather at what weight should it be present? And how is that weighting determined. There are a lot of ways to slice that pizza. And it all depends how you want to earve it up and eat it.

    When it comes to social media, characters rule. Why? Answer is the human element. Look at the latest Forrester reporting or Social Media Examiner reporting. More and more respondants are saying they don't want brands in the mix. Why? Because brands still don't get it. And in many cased even their agencies don't either. When brands act like parents talking talking to kids, talking at them rather than with them they end the conversation, not start or continue it. Not hard to understand. None of it social media is really. Attracting audiences, growing them, sustaining them, scaling them and making sure those audiences are loyal, engaged and return is the result of the quality of the conversations. 

    What to succeed in social media? It ain't brain science. Just simple old school stuff. Create content driven characters that connect and then convert. Loss sight of the order of priorities and you're on the outside looking in, Just as you would be at any event where you're left out of the conversation. No?


  • wenbryant's picture
    Apr 19 Posted 6 years ago wenbryant

    Hi Morgan,

    Hopefully if enough of us keep sayin' this companies will integrate social not bolt it on! Same experience with customer service: if you use social the response is super fast as opposed to traditional. Agreed it should all be equal.

    Thanks for commenting,


  • Apr 18 Posted 6 years ago Morgan (not verified)

    It's sad, actually, most of the time I'll get a better response when talking about a company through Twitter than I will when I talk to them in person. It's not weird, why this is, because if I say something negative about someone or something on an open platform, all of my twitter friends and even people who are searching for that topic or company, will see my comments and form an opionion around them. Especially when the company doesn't respond back. 

    I have been screaming everything you've just put in this post, to the roof tops for ages now! Social media IS apart of marketing and will forever stay to be apart of  marketing. It's all about connecting with people on a much deeper level. 

    Great post, Wendy!

  • Apr 18 Posted 6 years ago Anonymous (not verified)

    Well what's the point with online reviews at all then? 

  • wenbryant's picture
    Apr 18 Posted 6 years ago wenbryant


    I did talk to the waiter/hotel staff but did not get much out of it so I decided to try posting a review. We visit this chain of hotels so much and the experience was so starkly different than what I had at other properties.

    I did not expect to get much out of posting the review so I was surprised by the response.



  • wenbryant's picture
    Apr 18 Posted 6 years ago wenbryant

    Hi Nathaniel,

    Thanks for such a comprehensive comment! I agree--I agree!!! To your point, it will take the decision makers to create the dance and balance betweetn quantitative and qualitative. I can't wait to check out The Socializers.



  • Apr 18 Posted 6 years ago NixonVS (not verified)

    Wendy, Wendy, Wendy - I was typing so quickly to log in that there was smoking coming off my keyboard.  I have been saying this forever and ever and it's nice to have yet another example of how online and offline connecting can get results.  Large companies and household brands are getting it and so must we.

    About two months ago, I was drinking a cup of tea and noticed that one of the ingredients in my tea was corn starch.  I can't express enough how my eyes practically crossed as I pulled back the cup I was drinking from and looked it over.  Was *that* what was responsible for that smooth taste?

    I emailed Lipton . . . repeatedly . . . for day and days and never received a response.  Now understand something here.  I'm an adult and I know that I'm not going to receive a response if I'm ranting and unreasonable so there was nothing rude about my communication.  If I'm ingesting anything, I think I have the right to know what's in it and WHY.  Days passed, no response.  Behind the veil of email, you can be ignored and who's really going to know?  So I took it to Facebook.

    Hours later I received a standard reply about how only the best quality ingredients are used in their Peach Mango Pyramid teas.  I replied again that I'm not concerned about the quality of the corn starch in my tea - I want to know why there's more than tea leaves and berries in it.  It's tea, not stew.  I got a reply to my question by email and a few days later an envelope filled with coupons for whatever products I might want to try.

    Another company shocked a whole small community of people just last month by sending an email veiled as a response to a user with twelve pages of email addresses cc'd.  Yes, not bcc'd but exposed.  Even worse I was never a customer and never heard of them before so their claim that I was in their customer database was bogus.  Maybe my address was purchased elsewhere but I doubt it; from the quality of the communication it's more likely it was culled from some other location.  I made a PDF of the letter and shared it with them on Facebook since email and multiple faxes weren't getting results.  They started apologizing and talking hours later.  Two thumbs up to transparency!  You can view the actual email here and you should be shocked. Social media has caused less reputable companies to do just about anything to get followers almost at the expense of current customers. 

    There's the plus and negative to social media.  One on hand many forget that what they say today may be revived weeks or even months later, especially on sites like LinkedIn, Yelp, etc.  On the other hand, for we consumers AND reputable, smart, dedicated entrepreneurs, the transparency of business communications has changed what we can expect of the companies we support. Response turnaround can be as quick as hours or minutes and smart companies will value useable feedback from we their valued supporters.

    I'm so with you, Wendy.  I can't tell you how many boxes of products, kudos letters, appliances, etc. I've received over the years for a well-written letter, even in criticism, so you deserved your cheese platter!  Social media keeps companies on their toes and I think that's a good thing!

  • Apr 18 Posted 6 years ago Rajeev Ranjan Singh (not verified)


    I am pure social media person and using every top social websites for brand, blog and business. Today people are very fast and without internet and social media feeling survival. My per day average time on internet and social media is 13-14 hours. I am belongs to India and i have two time good morning in my life one for Asia Pacific person and other for Westeren friends. My small experince says to all brand, business , without  social media we can't give the speed our business. Using 3-4 social media applications for sentiments, right conversations and metrics of the business.. Sopcial Media is best part of thye marketing here we can interact fiendly with customers and cometitors. Daily traditional marketing converting in online..Now top traditional marketres are using skype, facebook and linkedin for real business. Social media is top module of the marketing.

  • Apr 18 Posted 6 years ago Anonymous (not verified)

    What's the point of making an online review and sending the hotel a tweet, when you might just as well just talk to your waitor and other staff at the hotel about your bad experience?

  • Alain BERTRAND's picture
    Apr 18 Posted 6 years ago Alain BERTRAND

    I am a total believer in the human, so called social factor in Social media. I will thus, definitely agree to Wendy's depicting of what Social Media is all about. (http://socialmediatoday.com/alain-bertrand/282610/isnt-social-media-about-being-social-not-speculative)
    Social Media has changed the face of Marketing for ever. It brought humans to the centre of the Marketing Mix for good. Evrybody knows now (at least this is how I feel) that the SM arm of the M-Mix is a vital ingredient for complete success.  

    But now, having that new weapon of Mass Awareness, the trick is to get the right doses in the Online Social Marketing Mix itself. That's a new debate that needs to be discussed further into. So many are still experimenting and obviously crashes are being more prolific in the SMEs than for bigger corporates who hire armies to fight their social war.

    Anyway, Great article Wendy. 

  • Apr 18 Posted 6 years ago application dev... (not verified)

    Indeed, socializing is the key point of marketing thus it involves, as a part- social media it is. Because of these social medium, customers find it more convenient to have their transaction in a real-time based medium which you be be found on popular social networks today. Have a good stress on those points and later you'll have an answer what these medium can do for you.

  • wenbryant's picture
    Apr 17 Posted 6 years ago wenbryant

    Thanks for commenting Sherryl! 

    I'll have to check out your post. I love "Ambassdors of Buzz"--social is perfect for the hospitality business, it feels like a natural extension to a business that is already 24-7. I find forward thinking, innovative and customer facing companies can pave their own way in social--because they're already interacting and social is just another way to interact. Happy Sunday.


  • keepupweb's picture
    Apr 17 Posted 6 years ago keepupweb

    I agree completely with you Wendy. That human connection is vital to marketing your business. I'm always amazed when people leave comments on my blog and haven't even set up a Gravatar. No matter how big or small our business is, we need to have systems in place to interact with others.

    Your experience with the hotel shows how important social media is to a business. I recently posted an article where I referred to a company that I recommend. They picked up on the ping and one of their "Ambassadors of Buzz" contacted me. They had systems in place to comment on my post, tweet my article and they mailed me a personalized note with a gift card for a cup of coffee at Starbucks. They're my new poster child for a business that is proactive about social media.

    Sherryl Perry

  • Apr 17 Posted 6 years ago Nathaniel Hansen (not verified)

    Great article, Wendy! The WHOLE enterprise MUST be involved!!

    Through the growing field of Social Business Design, organizations are being asked to take a hard look at how decisions are made internally and why. Jeff Dachis is one of the leading voices in this area: http://bit.ly/social_business_design

    Organizational structure is a central topic of conversation by Jeremiah Owyang, as he describes 5 ways large entities are structured and the value in each of these. Owyang leans toward the Hub and Spoke model as being optimal for entities entering social business: http://bit.ly/hub_and_spoke_owyang

    When one looks at decision-makers WITHIN the organization, there are two initial levels. At the C-Suite level, programs are being approved to meet stakeholder expectations and deliver results needed/desired/assumed.

    At the next level down, there is a debate (at the core) between objectivists (who believe something exists only to the extent that it can be verified through independent observation) and subjectivists (who say that social phenomenon would be unobservable if not for our capacity to experience and communicate intersubjectively...how we know (epistemology) influences what can be known, thus shaping one's ontological assumptions about what exists). The BEST social businesspeople are matchmakers, weaving these two ethos' together.

    Interdisciplinary programs are core to this "matchmaking". Organizations need BOTH objectivist and subjectivist! The machine certainly does a lot for us AND the human IS the last mile. (See Tim O'Reilly speaking here on the importance of the humans as the last mile in the field of business intelligence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhgoAxXRLPQ)

    THE BOTTOM LINE FOR ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERS: This debate MUST become a dance, a love affair, where the benefits of quantitative and qualitative approaches compliment one another. Nowhere is this more evident than in the actual nitty gritty work of Socializers (Community Managers) communicating within social networks AND then delivering results to Bean Counters. Content-Marketing BASED upon solid Business Intelligence is a critical slice of the pie in this regard. In other terms, it's about combining the best of Gartner (http://www.gartner.com) with the best of Copyblogger (http://www.copyblogger.com/content-marketing/).

    Nathaniel Hansen
    The Socializers 

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