Social not a 'thing'

Social media should not be viewed as a separate entity, but rather as one building block of an overall strategy, says Microsoft SA.

Read time 2min 10sec

Social is not the next buzzword, but is rather a vital ingredient in sales, marketing and CRM strategies, according to Fred Baumhardt, CTO at Microsoft SA.

"Social is not a 'thing'," he said, speaking at the ITWeb Social Media Summit, in Bryanston, this week. "It's not the next buzzword, and it doesn't become a destination - it's not its own thing."

Rather than viewing social media as a trend to be worked at separately, by specialists, it should be viewed as an important component of an overall strategy, he explained. "Generally, you don't measure the sub-component. And [social] is a sub-component of sales, marketing and CRM; it's not a destination in itself."

Because of this, he argued, it is not possible to measure the return on investment (ROI) of social media on its own. "The ROI is adding a social capability to super-charge your application. Social media should be used as a design element; it is something in the mix, rather than the cake itself, or a capability, like the tyre of a car, that provides the transportation service."

Starting to think of social media in these terms should cause a change in how we think about social media strategy, argued Baumhardt. For example, simply creating social media profiles and linking to them on a home page is not sufficient, he emphasised. "Putting little Facebook, LinkedIn and RSS icons on your Web site is not a social media strategy. This is generation one. This stuff is basic; it's your ticket to the game, not the game itself. But you have to do it."

Social media strategy should encompass many mainstream marketing principles, he said, such as innovation, an emotional connection and immediacy. "We check social media constantly because of its immediacy. If your social media isn't immediate, you're doing it wrong. Likewise, if your strategy doesn't connect me to an innovation, and doesn't have an emotional buying connection, it's weak.

"That rethink is what we think customers have to do," Baumhardt concluded. "A good strategy will weave social media into how you run your day-to-day business. Just as apps have become the new model of the world, and you design for this app-centric world, so you need to include social capability from the ground up."

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