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It’s interesting for me to see the development of how social media plays with digital marketing. For a lot of organisations the technical element of this is really quite terrifying. The concept of using a data management platform to cross reference behaviours across different touch points. The idea of orchestrating campaigns with email, website, mobile and call centre is even in its simplest from pretty complex. So the idea of adding social to this too, is often seen as a step too far.

In a lot of ways, so it should be!

Yes, social can integrate with every other digital marketing platform, but I sometimes wonder if that might be ‘missing the point’ of it all.

Social is an opportunity to be more attractive to others. It is a seamless, frictionless, “free” way to engage people who may, or may not, become your customers. In its purest form, it is a way to get to know people and then giving them the opportunity to not forget you at the point when they’re ready to come and buy. It is not, or perhaps “should not” be, a sales and marketing channel.

As Seth Godin famously said “the problem with marketers is that they break everything”, after all, look what marketers have done to the telephone, to email, to television, even to websites…all of these are spaces to shoehorn a brand message in front of people whether they want it or not. It simply isn’t “right”.

So, I urge marketers to think about social media in a purer way. Yes it can support the brand message, yes it should be appropriate to the audience, but no it should not just become another delivery mechanism for the sales message.

Social media should be a way to bring people together, to give them the opportunity to share experiences and ideas, to position your brand and not to relentlessly ram it in my face!

Many years ago I read a business book called “Funky Business” and to this day it remains my favourite business book. In it, the authors talk about the global village and the power of the niche. It says that with the internet giving every business everywhere a truly global market for its goods and services, it means that businesses shouldn’t be looking to make the quick sale but should be trying to find customers who want exactly, precisely the service which is on offer.

This would mean that you were absolutely sure you would be able to delight the client rather than just “flogging them something”. You’re happy, because the client keeps coming back, the client’s happy, because they bought exactly the product that they wanted at the price they wanted.

Now that sounds like a pretty good model to me.

The great thing is that social enables this. The idea of people spreading their experiences with others and the idea that they will do the marketing and the selling for you.

Sounds too good to be true?