Social media signs

3 New Critical Social Media Constructs

The Wharton Club of South Florida organized an event, “proof of Performance for social media” on September 29th at the University of Miami. Over 100 attendees enjoyed a free-flowing 90-minute Q&A session focusing on the intersection of marketing and social media. The blue-ribbon panel of experts included Steve Ennen, Director of Wharton’s Interactive Media Initiative (WIMI), who moderated the discussion; Wharton’s Professor Eric Bradlow, co-Director of WIMI; Bruce Turkel; University of Miami Professor Alex de Carvalho; and Jacques Hart of Roar Media. To learn more about the event, click here.

While most online marketers struggle to keep pace with social media’s rapid evolution, the Wharton Club panel discussion revealed three key constructs that serve as a universal framework for effective social marketing programs.

The first: experimentation. Wharton Marketing Professor Yoram Wind probably put it best when he said: “If you are not willing to experiment, then you really must not want to know the answer.” As an electronic medium built on a highly manipulatable foundation (often open source code), social media lends itself extremely well to experimenting to find the best-performing applications. Basic A/B testing of messaging, content, landing pages, creative, and other campaign elements can yield significant intelligence and help ensure the programs meet the organizational goals.

A second pillar: application of just-in-time measurement. This is a newer social media construct that Silicon Valley industry leaders advocate as an effective way to further build and solidify community and advance social media programs. As social measurement technologies improve and new free and open source tools become available, just-in-time measurement becomes a powerful method to continuously track and measure campaign efficacy vis-à-vis the program’s goals.

The third theme concerns the rate of adoption and integration of social media into a company’s culture and overall marketing-communications programs. Many of the audience members at the Wharton panel discussion shared personal anecdotes of company executives who are reluctant to engage in social media, support its funding or embrace it as an integral part of their marketing strategy. Attendees also voiced concerns about companies failing to protect their reputations online and mitigate negative feedback.

The panelists’ consensus is that social media, as a transparent medium, is having a pervasive impact on our world and communications. If used correctly, it can significantly help a company achieve its goals. Companies that choose not to engage in this dialogue will invariably forgo the many positive impacts and benefits of social media. They also run the serious risk of alienating themselves from the consumers who are talking about them while limiting their ability to respond to crises and manage their reputations online – a dangerous proposition. Without doubt, all sorts of conversations about their companies, their brands, products and services are happening online – whether or not the companies want to engage in them – and smart companies are choosing to invest the time and resources to join the conversations.