My latest post is up at Daily Fix, entitled 'Are Marketers Missing the Social Media Boat?' The post is born out of frustration, because I am seeing more and more mention of how marketers are integrating social media into their marketing plans, but not as they should be.
Social media holds enormous potential for marketers, because blogs, podcasts, Twitter, and other forms give marketers the ability to bring the voice of the customer into a company. These tools allow companies to communicate with customers, and in turn, feedback collected from customers can alter a company's marketing, making it more effective and efficient.
Instead, many marketers seem to be using social media as simply a new selling channel. The WSJ recently wrote about how CBS selected a group of 'mommy' bloggers to come to the set of 'The New Adventures of Old Christine'(Thanks again for the link, Paul). CBS let the bloggers meet the cast and shoot videos with them to be posted on their blogs, and heaped freebies including DVDs on the bloggers.
But in the article, I saw no mention of any attempt by CBS to actually TALK to the bloggers and get any type of feedback from them. Apparently, CBS simply wanted to fly the bloggers in, let them meet the cast, throw them some DVDs, and let them run to their blogs with stars in their eyes, happily posting about how they loved the entire experience. And you know what, I'm pretty much ok with CBS reaching out to what it feels are the show's online evangelists, as long as CBS also makes a sincere effort to get feedback from the bloggers, and attempts to talk to them and learn how they can better understand the show's audience.
Instead, it appears that CBS did what many marketers have done, they showed the bloggers a good time, and gave them some freebies hoping for positive blog posts about the show. In other words, CBS didn't view blogs as a communication tool with its target audience, but as another selling channel. This is TERRIBLY short-sighted, and means that CBS is 'leaving money on the table'.
But CBS isn't alone, most companies are viewing bloggers as simply another sales channel. I've blogged extensively about my participation in Nikon's 'Picture This' program. And while I am on record as saying that this program is one of the best 'blogger ambassador' programs I've ever seen, I also think that Nikon could be doing more to collect feedback from bloggers that are involved in the program. To be fair, Tom Biro from The MWW Group has emailed me a couple of times asking if I had any questions, but there doesn't seem to be a real effort to give the bloggers that are participating in the program a way to have input in the program's direction. We got the cameras, we got a couple of emails soon after asking if we have any questions, and that's been it. I was hoping for at least a blog specifically for the program that would allow Nikon to highlight the bloggers involved, and also give us the chance to give more feedback on the program. And such a blog could also give tips on using the camera, and show some of the pictures we have taken with the camera, but I guess that won't be happening. Overall, the 'outreach' part for 'Picture This' has been minimal.
Which I obviously think is a shame in this and all cases. Sure I understand that for marketers, the urge can be there to tap into popularity of certain bloggers to 'sell more stuff'. But that's way small potatoes, the best way that companies can utilize blogs and other forms of social media in their marketing efforts is to view these tools as vehicles for communicating and understanding their customers. Social media offers marketers the enormous potential to bring the voice of the customer into its marketing efforts, which leads to more effective and more efficient marketing.
If Nikon has any additional 'outreach' components to the 'Picture This' program that I don't know about, please leave a comment here, rather than email me. I think it would make more sense for Nikon or any company executing a 'blogger ambassador' program to attempt to constantly collect feedback from participants, but maybe Nikon has something planned for later. If so, feel free to drop a comment here explaining those efforts.
Tags:The Viral Garden, Marketing, CBS, Nikon