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Friedman: Social will dominate customers’ brand experience

Many books have been written about social media, but Peter Friedman, CEO of social marketing company LiveWorld, saw a void. “So many publications are full of platitudes or have a very narrow focus on tactics,” he says. “If you’re in charge of marketing for a company, it doesn’t tell you where to go.” So he authored The CMO’s Social Media Handbook, a book that provides a strategic framework and step-by-step guide to help marketing leaders form and execute a social media program. The former VP and general manager of Apple’s Internet Services Division shared his social media insights with BMA Buzz.

BMA Buzz: What do CMOs who are just getting started need to consider?

Friedman: Social media is not just another channel. It is much more pervasive than anything we’ve seen before, and yet it really is just [carrying on a tradition of] relationship marketing that goes back thousands of years. Social media brings back relationship marketing on steroids.

For most brands your customers will ultimately experience your brand through social media more than through any other channel or even the product itself. The dialogue among people is strong. You have to think about it that way. Let go of 60 years of culture around the way we’ve been doing marketing. Be more customer driven and more about the conversation among customers than about blasting messages.

That is quite a change. We’re used to controlling messages. Now it’s changed. It’s customer driven. It’s not as high-production value; it’s more like reality television. Your customers will tell you a lot, and you’re not in control of that conversation. You can lead and influence, but you’re not in control. That’s a very different model for companies. That also means bringing your people forward. You don’t want to be a faceless brand and that’s a difficult cultural model for companies.

In social media your best asset is your people. You want to personalize and socialize your brand. Whether you are a small or big business, if you could put more resources into establishing a relationship with customers, you would. And you can do it. A customer conversation is one click away now. And it will happen whether you are showing up to the party or not. 

 
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