Corporate Eye

Strategy, Social Media, and the Dangers of the Shiny Object

Glitter 2

Commenting on a recent article by Jeremy Owyang, Albert Maruggi (founder of marketing firm Provident Partners) remarked:

Just spent a couple of days with health care marketers from a cross section of hospitals. I also had a session with a billion dollar plus business insurance company on their modest, and I mean modest social strategy.  My radar highlights significant hype fatigue, maybe even disappointment with the social space.

The problem may be adopting social media without a strategy.  Maruggi’s comment includes a link that leads to a few other links, which lead to posts that are (a) short, and (b) worth reading:

These posts are all written from the marketing point of view, so as you troll through them, remember that a big part of recruiting is marketing the employer brand.  But consider this also:  marketing the company as an employer is NOT the same as marketing the company’s products and services.  In fact, there can sometimes be a very big difference.

So while it might be a strategic mistake from the product marketing perspective to chase every “shiny object” (in this case, new social media platforms and technologies), it might not be a mistake from the recruiting perspective.  From the product marketing view, strategic focus may be on effectiveness with the largest possible audience—while recruiters may need to reach very specific groups of people.  The super-techie, super-social-media types might actually be impressed to see recruiters turn up in some edgy online locations, so if those are the folks you need, it’s a different situation.

Back at home base, Jeremy Owyang’s post was about three essential qualities for corporate media posts.  He says, look for people who:

  • Fulfill meaningful business objectives (“These individuals will be able to use brand monitoring tools, have analytical abilities, and be able to benchmark their efforts that tie back to business metrics–not social media metrics.”)
  • Bridge both internal stakeholders and customers (“This quality requires the professional to be able to relate to internal teams that may not understand the social culture, be empathetic, be able to communicate and train them . . . “)
  • Show credibility with the technology (Beyond expertise with current technology, they need to be “capable of learning new technologies, evaluating, and then applying for business needs.”)

Summary?  Whether it’s technology or people—keep strategic concerns in mind when making social media choices.

(Thanks to jayniebell for the great glitter.)

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.

a couple of items, 1) thanks for noticing my original post, and 2) I think what is getting difficult is the nature of social media which is a relationship. Whether it’s being engaged in a relationship with the same community of people over a long time (don’t I know it, married 23 years) or taking the energy to respond to people in a customer service sort of way on the web (it never closes and you are always in a fish bowl), relationships take work.

The novelty of social media is wearing off for the early adopters and the relationship is still there. Given the quickened pace of web years, I think 3 years into social media equals the 7 year itch milestone in marriage.

But this is a good thing. Those that never wanted a relationship will criticize social media and move on. Those that see the horizontal benefits that includes a modest bump in sales, a genuine correlation to customer loyalty and market intelligence, and an overall positive impact on corporate culture will now incorporate what they are learning into other business processes.

Thanks for a really excellent insight, Albert. Everyone talks about the value of “relationship,” but not everyone is willing to make the long-term commitments that build that value over time. And since social connections–whether online or off–demand attention and reward patience, it’s probably for the best if folks who are in a big hurry just get off the bus and look for a taxi.

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