Marketing and Research Consulting for a Brave New World
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If you’re struggling with a social media strategy, you’re not alone! There are a number of reasons why social media is so hard to master.

1—Your brand needs to be welcomed by people and you need to welcome them onto your management team. Many social media initiatives by major manufacturers are met by skepticism and annoyance (e.g Skittles) (stop invading my social and personal space…). So, a key question is how do you integrate your brand into people’s digital lives in a meaningful and welcomed way? Clearly, customer conversation is critical and has shown a good hit rate of being welcomed (e.g. Dell, Starbucks, @comcastcares, fiskateers–thanks Francois Gossieaux for bringing this to my attention). People like to be heard and like to have a measure of control. However, marketers need to be willing to let customers into the boardroom and innovation labs. Often the path forward to social marketing success ironically starts with traditional media. Obama, a tremendous social media success story, really was launched as a “brand” by mass media visibility (Democratic national convention keynote in 2004 equated to perhaps $100MM in TV spending). Also, do you think billions of dollars of TV advertising had something to do with Coke being so popular in Facebook? These examples reinforce the 360 nature of marketing today.

2—It is as much about insights as it is about marketing. Any customer conversation is at the intersection of marketing and consumer insights. Every time your brand pops up in organic or paid search, you are learning about which key words are relevant to people in their daily lives. This seamless integration of marketing and research, this relaxing marketing control so you can get so much more in return is very new for marketing organizations and is not yet part of the culture for many. Mastering the insights value of social media is a big issue on which the ARF is leading the industry.

3—Living social media as a native. Most marketers and researchers “live” TV, radio, magazines, etc. as a native—you don’t think twice about it! Marketing questions concerning traditional media appear to be intuitive because you are native to those environments. Digital marketing questions are different. Most are comfortable with web 1.0 publisher sites and e-mail but the ranks of those feeling native really start thinning out as you get to social media such as Twitter, Slideshare, Delicious…even Facebook! If you are a stranger in a strange land, it is hard to get by.

So, we think the big challenges are: integration of traditional and digital strategies into comprehensive and effective 360 marketing efforts; learning how “listening” to social media can transform your research approaches, and becoming a social media native.

The ARF ReThink conference from Mar 29th-April 1st addresses these needs explicitly. On Sunday, Mar. 29th, we are conducting a 5 hour social media bootcamp with the help of a leading viral marketing agency, M:30 so you can begin living digital life as a native. During the course of the 3 days at our annual conference you will hear insights from Google and others on learning how to assess a 360 marketing campaign. Prof Jerry Wind from Wharton will share all that is known (and what is NOT YET known) about how advertising works on traditional as well as digital platforms. Leading players regarding all forms of listening (social media, managed communities, digital analytics, etc.) will co-present with clients and create a hands-on experience via our one-stop “Listening Zone” so you can begin integrating listening into your research approaches.

Your opportunity to catch up and pass your competitors regarding use of social media begins on March 29th!

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