A Candid Interview with Pauline Ores, Social Media Strategy, Principal Analyst, IBM Market Insights (Part 3)
With challenges, lessons learned, and strong social engagement experience under her cap, Pauline Ores shares with us the future of social media including issues, truths and where to place social media focus when it comes to business objectives.
1. Where are you heading with social media?
Speed of adoption attests to quantity and breadth of social media value. Most people would agree by comparison, the value social media as a modified push marketing tactic is negligible. That said, as desktop publishing transformed the field of graphic arts, I have no doubt social media will transform the field of marketing― even if firms elect not to participate. More and more consumers expect, if not demand, companies pay attention and stay in sync―in terms of product development, customer service, business strategies and models and more.
Personally, the is the aspect I find most interesting are the new interactions social tools and services enable―so in some ways, I’m less focused on social media then most. An unusual pursuit perhaps, but well supported here, as IBM has a long history of exploring problems from a variety of perspectives. At the same time I would never want to give up working with colleagues on the execution of near-term social media tactics and research, as that helps ensure longer-term plans add value.
2. There is a lot of wrestling between PR firms, digital agencies, and the new “social media” agencies about which of these firms are more equipped to offer strategy, research and execution services. In your opinion, who should do what? From the client side perspective, which pieces belong where?
Like any other engagement, the key is who, not which―it’s about who you will be working with at these firms vs. the types of firms.
In terms of execution, my personal preference would always be to work with a team that has actual community building experience, a team that can point to a community or social platform they built―demonstrating they truly understand what it takes to people to join and actively participate. Too many people assume if their vendor understands social applications and platforms, and have personal experience using it themselves, i.e. their own blog, they have what it takes to build a community, which is not necessarily the case.
For strategy, I would lean towards the team that can deliver a social media strategy centered on business vs. social media activities. One that would articulate how an investment in social engagement program furthers the overall business strategy, delivers on the brand promise and helps the business evolve. This suggests a consultative-focused engagement, so their ability to closely collaborate with their clients would be another important factor.
3. What are some of the biggest issues in social media today?
What we might define as issues today stems from social media marketing’s need for a variety of supporting elements evolve―marketing, funding, business processes, resources, internal skills, etc. Social engagement programs have different requirements but are of course, executed in an environment almost exclusively optimized for traditional marketing. For example, it is not uncommon for marketing programs to have a defined beginning and end, and be funded quarter-by-quarter whereas, in some instances you’d have social engagement programs that, ideally, never end.
In terms of execution, investment for new social media programs involves shifting funds from marketing activities that can demonstrate ROI, on the assumption the new social media program will provide more value, however social media rarely provides comparable measurements. We’re all faced with a similar challenge – measure marketing ROI and the unique value only social engagement programs can provide, with few if any social media measurement applications and standards.
In B2B arena prospects, clients and partners see great value in engaging employees, so locating subject matter experts and growing internal involvement can quickly become a bottleneck―not insurmountable, but again, specialized processes and applications would help.
Longer term, to be truly effective, as large scale social media programs are rarely contained in single department, we’ll need scalable systems capable of coordinating activity across different roles, departments, and divisions. This system will need to manage the massive amount of ‘outside-in’ dialog, route this to the right teams, and help track value of both the internal and external contributions. Challenging, yes, but not impossible.
Taking a ‘helicopter’ view, this is the same lag in development we’ve seen time and time before. As social media marketing teams discover and clarify their requirements, it is inevitable that marketing teams, agencies, and developers will spring up to address them, just as they did for search and web marketing. New organizations like the Social Media Advertising Consortium, SMAC.org, are working with clients, vendors, and agencies on common vocabulary, practices and metrics.
Thank you Pauline!
Pauline, it was great to be able to spend time with you and get a peek into how IBM is leading B2B companies with their enterprise social media development! No doubt we’ve all learned how it is possible for large companies to successfully implement social media in an effort to connect employees to each other and employees to customers. Thank you.