Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Presidential Campaigns Show Businesses How to Tap Social Networking and New Media Tactics

The 2008 presidential campaign serves as the harbinger of change in marketing strategies and the use of new media, as well as understanding how social networking can be adapted for building, marketing and in some cases, defending a brand, according to a new paper from Deloitte Consulting LLP. While businesses may sometimes be ahead of politicians in using new media, the velocity of the presidential campaigns forces politicians into much more aggressive experimentation and adoption.

Deloitte offers the following insights for companies to consider based on the campaign to date:

--You've lost control of the message. Your carefully crafted commercials, news releases, and websites are fair game for revisionists. Engage these new media influencers by categorizing their blogs, social networking sites and chat rooms as advocates, neutrals or hostiles. Nurture advocates with useful information while taking action to move neutrals in a positive direction. Consider creating your own revisionist acts. Creativity counts and can win points.

--For better or worse, YouTube is egalitarian. No matter how much you spend on production, there’s no guarantee your YouTube ad will be any more popular than other videos that address your brand. Slick and professional are not the hallmark of most popular YouTube videos. Before using YouTube as an advertising medium directly, consider if someone else is already doing a more effective and catchy job already.

--Facebook provides many plausible functions for markets, none of which is clearly dominant yet. Facebook recently announced that it strategically wants to be viewed as an application platform, not just a social networking site. While all of the campaigns have created a basic Facebook presence – not all that different from creating a simple web page or MySpace site, it’s expected that some campaigns will build custom applications to extend functionality, likely to build networks and mobilize communities. Facebook has also rolled out advertising functionality that allows precision in the types of ads targeted to specific segments.

--Brand terrorism may be right around the corner. For many businesses it is not a matter of whether, but a matter of when. Consider your vulnerabilities now. Re-think and update your crisis management plan quarterly. Identify the required participants and how they will be contacted in an emergency. Include a plan for how to leverage partners and affiliates in your response. Regardless of attack source – new media or old, new media will be part of the response. Think “Swift Boats” on steroids.

--Not responding is no longer an option. Attacks can not be ignored. From Dukakis’ response to “Willy Horton” to John Kerry’s delayed counter-attack from “Swift Boats,” the campaigns have shown what happens when they are either slow to respond or fail to retaliate at all – the attacker wins the day. New media such as social networking and blogs have greatly expanded the sources of threats and the speed at which attacks spread.

--Your media plan may need shredding. Picture yourself watching an online video of your passengers stranded on a tarmac or your CEO portrayed as Big Brother on YouTube. Create a media plan with an appropriate blend of traditional and new media, and then build in flexibility so you can scrap it and shift spending as needed. Remember that brand damaging information moves faster than good news.

--Your organizational structure may be an impediment. Upend a monolithic marketing organization and replace it with smaller units to enhance market-sensing capabilities and nurture instincts. Create the ability to act and react faster. Re-define the notion of "smart hires" based on the new structure, and build teams that balance mature experience with youthful new-media instincts to achieve depth and significantly improve results.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

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