Why having a social media strategy is a bad idea


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It’s interesting that with the rise of social media, companies seem to have unlearned everything they learned about integrated marketing and service in the email and ecommerce “revolutions” in the past. Many companies are hopping on the “social media” bandwagon this year, launching social media initiatives in specialized groups to listen to and engage with customers in Twitter, Facebook, and communities.

But at Attensity, we believe social media should not be pursued in a vacuum. It should be aligned with other customer feedback, marketing, and service principles and processes. Being able to listen, analyze, relate, and act on multi-channel feedback (from social media, emails, surveys, call center records) better than anyone else is a key component in increasing loyalty and revenue opportunities.

Why is it so important for companies to create a multi-channel strategy as opposed to a social media one?

  • The ability to perform more in-depth analysis that reveals the why behind a trend. For example, you might find that a lot of your customers are talking about wanting to buy a new product you’ve just announced. By sending a follow-up survey to or creating focus groups with those customers, you might learn more about why those customers are so excited, as well as uncover and address any uncertainties they might have that might slow down their desire to purchase.
  • Validation or refutement of a trend. Customers might complain about a product issue a lot in social media, but they might be merely echoing complaints based on overheard rumors, rather than on actual first-person experiences. When you look into your customer service records, you notice very few calls about the issue no one ever bothers to call customer service about it, and your return rates haven’t gone up. This means you might have a PR problem more than an actual product problem.
  • Consistency of brand experience. You want to ensure that a customer contacting you via Twitter doesn’t get a totally different response than someone who contacts you via a web form or email (or, if they do, you want it to at least be a deliberate decision on your part). Everyone should have access to the same knowledgebase of information and the same set of processes, regardless of channel.

So how can you create an effective multi-channel strategy in your company?

First of all, you need to get all the players sitting at the same table. You need to think about everyone who is touching your customer at different points in the sales and service process. This can include representatives from sales, marketing, customer service, market research, and even your channel.

You need to then determine where you are listening to your customers today. Are you currently surveying your customers? Are you looking at survey verbatims or just the numbers? How connected are your pre-purchase and post-purchase survey and focus group programs? Are you mining external customer communities where customers gather (Expert sites? Review sites? Etc) Do you have your own internal customer communities? Are you listening to social media, or do you need to extend existing social media programs? How are you leveraging feedback from your email and contact center systems?

Once you add up all of this feedback, you’re talking about a lot of information. This is where analysis comes into play: using the power of automated text analytics to reveal the products, trends, issues, and sentiment being described in the text of each of these customer conversations. By creating a centralized repository for multi-channel communications, you provide a single authoritative source to which every constituent can come to find out answers. Now each team is able to see the complete customer picture, instead of drawing potentially incorrect conclusions based merely on a small sliver of data.

Relating these insights to structured information and information resident in other systems is key. What were the top concerns of people who rated this product a “2” vs a “4”? How much of this product did we ship in the last month? How are customer service complaints stacking up against social media complaints? It’s very important that your analytics solution interact well with your in-house data warehouse solution, whether that be Teradata, BusinessObjects, Microstrategy, or other solutions of record.

You then need to plan for how you will act on this information. Do product managers, executives, and others come to your market research or analytics department asking for specific pieces of information? Or does your analytics team understand the business well enough to be able to proactively approach others with ideas and insights? To what types of issues does your company want to respond? How quickly should that response be done? Who should respond and based on what criteria? Do you treat “influencers” or “VIP customers” differently from everybody else, or does your company espouse a “every customer is important” ideal?

Thinking through this in a comprehensive way will enable you to be more effective, not only in your social media efforts, but across all of your customer engagements. It’s important that you select a partner who understands the importance of multi-channel communications, and has worked with companies similar to yours to guide you in best practices and learnings from previous engagements. Want to learn more? Drop us an email, follow us on Twitter, or check out our Facebook page.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Catherine van Zuylen
Catherine serves as Vice President of Product Marketing for Attensity. She brings more than 15 years of experience thriving on the passion and intensity of technology startups and rollups. Prior to Attensity, Catherine was VP of Marketing for the Block Shield family of companies, where she defined and implemented new positioning, product, and branding strategies in support of company restructuring and acquisition of technology assets.


  1. Agree with you. The INTREGATION of marketing messages and communication strategy is what works. We often are excited by newness and innovation, but marketing is much more advanced now, and truly must be integrated across channels and the segments you reach.


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