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How to Use Social Media: An Onramp for Corporate Marketers

a position paper prepared by: Bill Franchey

peerFluence, Inc. San Francisco, California MARCH 2009


Executive Summary

Marketing, like any expense, comes down to Return on Investment (ROI). How much brand awareness, marketability, product awareness and, in the end, revenue, can be generated by the dollars spent on marketing? But marketing isn’t just about ROI. Like any expense, marketing also involves risk. Sound marketing involves making decisions to maximize the return on investment given an acceptable degree of risk. Until now, social media has fit into the realm of experimental marketing. Most major advertisers allocate small portions of their marketing spend toward the growing but still untested social media arena. This white paper challenges that philosophy, first by disproving the idea that marketing spent on social media is untested, experimental and unmeasurable, and then by creating a playbook of best practices for planning, building and succeeded on social media outlets. The playbook is called SNAP -- for Seed, Nurture, Authenticate and Personalize. SNAP is an onramp for corporate marketers to introduce their brand, generate awareness, create viral messaging and generate traction through corporate-controlled and user-generated content. SNAP is not a step-by-step process. Rather, each of the four modules must work simultaneously and must feed each other to advance the objectives and goals of the campaign. While it starts with planting the seeds for an already trusted brand to be disseminated to an audience, those seeds must continue to be spread and nourished. It is that audience, which must be nurtured and cultivated in its habitual environment, which will ultimately be responsible for iterating the message to extended nodes in their networks. As importantly, an effective social media campaign requires authenticating the message by communicating in the language of the audience, presenting a clear, consistent, believable voice. As in traditional advertising and marketing, it often works more effectively when the message is personified with an easy-to-recognize brand that evokes an emotional connection. Finally, an effective social media campaign depends upon personalizing the experience for your audience. Simply put, it means getting the right message to the right person.

Social media is not, as some would believe, a one-to-many campaign that is splashed across online pages. Indeed, it can’t even be referred to as belonging to the business-toconsumer space. Social media, by contrast, belongs in the business-to-consumer-plusconsumer-to-consumer space. In this form, where it can be allowed to thrive naturally and virally, it can be one of the most targeted, measurable, most cost-effective forms of marketing. Social media can generate brand awareness, product awareness and revenue -- all of which can and should be monitored by corporate marketing.


If there is a single marketing campaign that has generated significant buzz for its bold, well-constructed and inevitably successful social media campaign, it was the Barack Obama presidential campaign. Barack Obama built a brand around the message that Obama = Change, and galvanized hundreds of thousands of fans to donate funds in small or large amounts, and to volunteer to join his “Hope” campaign. It was not the type of campaign that delivers speeches from the back of a train, or sends people knocking on doors to hand out buttons. Where Al Gore may get credit for the first online campaign, Barack Obama will get credit for what is already becoming known as the Facebook campaign or the MySpace campaign” or the YouTube campaign. Was it a grassroots effort? Yes, in a way. But if the definition of grassroots effort means delivering a singular message broadly to the masses directly, then this was definitely not a grassroots effort. To be sure, Obama communicated directly to some voters via blogs and email. But the core of his online campaign had nothing to do with one-to-many communications. It involved creating a brand message using traditional marketing and new-media tools such as video, contests and position papers, and then building a small, centralized group of core, hand-picked, targeted peer influence leaders who became brand ambassadors for disseminating those messages to their own networks of “friends,” who in turn spread the word to their friends, and then their friends, and so on and so on. Where Obama truly set new ground is by entering the conversation that voters were already having, in their native habitat (i.e. Facebook and MySpace) and via classic brand leveraging techniques achieved cult status months before the November election finally arrived.

How to Use this Paper

As the Obama campaign showed, there are ways of gaining marketing advantage by following some best practices, identifying trends in a timely fashion, and knowing what questions to ask to drive strategy. It is not just about hosting the best conversations, but making those conversations more effective. Among the questions this paper examines are: How do you find consumers on social networks? How do you move your existing consumer base onto the networks, so as to better reach them? Where, when and how do you enter their conversations? What messages will they accept on their networks? Do you monitor their activity? If so, how? And how do you maintain that relationship once it is established? The question is not just how to establish a brand on social networks, but how to establish a brand’s social graph on the networks. It also means discovering what data is important – and whose data to use, and where to locate your presence. Equally important is how to draw fans in by endorsement of their reputation, and through experiential marketing, customer-driven product development and interactive tools. Throughout this paper, case studies are used in various industries to showcase how other organizations and corporations are addressing these issues. ... PLEASE GO TO to download the full paper

peerFluence social media onramp  

Until now, social media has fit into the realm of experimental marketing. Most major advertisers allocate small portions of their marketing...