Monday, August 8, 2011

Guest Post:: When Social Media Is NOT the Answer!

Starting her career as a CPA with Deloitte, marketing guru Cathy Eckstein has had 25 years of strategic planning and marketing experience with organizations ranging from startups to global Fortune 500 companies; she has worked  across a variety of industries, including technology, energy, consumer goods/services, retailing and not-for-profits, including such  brands as Kellogg and Clorox. Most recently, Cathy was Chief Marketing Officer of Insight Enterprises, a global company providing technology solutions to businesses and public sector organizations.  She drove development and implementation of the company’s first five-year strategic plan, which, resulted in expansion from three countries to a presence throughout North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, leading to  revenue growth of 60% over three years.   Cathy also served as  Senior Vice President, Marketing at Ingram Micro, a $30 billion distributor of technology equipment and solutions Earlier this spring, Cathy founded Cornerstone CMO, based in Tuscon, Arizona,  to provide project-based strategic marketing to businesses.  Here are her views on social media:

Social Media: Not for Everyone!
These days most business leaders  feel “guilted” into developing a multi-faceted social media strategy, even though it’s not the answer for all of them. Of course, social media can be a very important component of a brand or company marketing plan.  However, like all elements of a plan, social media must be evaluated for its ability to contribute to overall goals and objectives.  In many cases it is not the most effective choice.  It’s also not free!  It is easy to think of social media as being the most cost effective way to go to market as much of the media itself is indeed no cost.  However, there is a tremendous resource investment required to do social media well.  Content must be relevant, current and constantly updated.  That takes time from highly qualified resources – time taken away from other projects and initiatives.
The key is to develop a strategic plan and supporting marketing strategy; then you have to evaluate the relevance of all elements of the marketing plan, including social media.
Here are some key considerations:
  • Who is my target?  Are they active participants in social media?  Do they rely on social media channels to gather information to help them make decisions, particularly decisions related to my product or service?  If you are trying to reach CEOs and sell them an expensive consulting service, chances are that they will not be convinced by tweets.
  • What are my goals?  What are the major steps to reach those business goals?  Is social media the best way to accomplish these goals?
  • Which elements of social media are important for my business?  For a professional services business, LinkedIn may offer a good first step.   Developing a strong LinkedIn profile and fully leveraging connections can get you off to a great start.  Follow up with a blog to establish your expertise.  For a consumer goods or services company, creative use of Facebook and Twitter may do wonders to build a brand image.  View the various components of social media independently and find those that are right for your situation.
  • Is social media the best investment?  What is the true cost of social media?  Will an agency’s support be needed?  What resources are required to implement the social media plan?  Will the such an  investment provide a strong return.?
Bottom line: as with all business strategies, the decision to invest in social media must be done with an eye to ensuring it is the best investment of time, money and resources.


  1. I agree in principle. Social media is but one aspect of internet marketing and its accumulated strategies under its platform. Relying on social media alone would be less potent.

  2. It seems to me that the way forward is to find ‘champions’ within a community who fit the tastes of those within. For example, imagine a Pinterest person who has a side interest in science and could be sold to their existing contacts as a good source of advice without going to an ‘outsider’. Imagine such a person entering the debate on, say, vaccination. It could be that some kind of (Mozilla-Open)badge system could identify such people within a community (query: does anyone I know have expertise on [topic]? Search returns all ‘friends’ who have a badge signifying some knowledge…). Such a badge could come from something as simple as sitting through an online presentation (although that’s rather minimal). This is common when engineering organisational change — find someone within a team to champion [x].

    Anyway, bottom line, if credibility in a particular context is the showstopping credential then you need to find people who already have that and then look for the features you want. If I trip an immune response then whatever I offer will be treated as suspect, whereas ‘@sciencemom’ (made up — don’t look) could work wonders. Also applies with issues — ref. the Perovsknit project a while back — of interest to knitters. Maybe a periodic table of cupcakes would do it ;) To get more info please visit