I have been tapping into social media since my Yahoo! days and I’ve come to really love the medium. It goes against the grain of me as a traditional marketer, whose thinking has really been about creating excitement for products that people may not really care about initially, enticing a not-yet-established motivation to want the thing I was selling and provoke action.
I worked in credit card marketing for 6 years (sigh!) not fully believing that people really wanted credit cards, let alone debt. But as a marketer, I sold the notion of access to ‘dreams’ if people had the vehicle necessary to get that access. As an advertising executive, I created amazing campaigns for products and services pushing messaging to audiences, at times, who clearly weren’t interested. The ones who were, were not deemed ‘ideal’ so I backed off from these seemingly low hanging fruits.
As I look back at these events, I realized the huge thing that was lacking: consumer validation… not sales, not response rates. In banking, a 2% response rate on a $4MM campaign was considered successful. That’s because that 2% audience could be upsold, cross-sold, and generate enough revenue over their lifetime to justify the initial acquisition cost. But were the customers ever satisfied? Were they ever really happy? I never really knew because my access to the customer was nonexistent. I usually received a report from operations telling me how many people signed up for a credit card. Yay! But really?
As social media started emerging as a strong vehicle about 5 years ago, I paid close attention to its lure. Here, these networks existed without the interruption of annoying advertising. Ironic, cause I was typically the source of that annoying advertising. Slowly but surely, I also was lured to a space where people could speak as people, uninterrupted. I spoke to esteemed bloggers and social media strategists like Alejandro Reyes and Joselin Mane, who taught me the importance of active listening, transforming the marketing mindset, and leveraging relationships with the customer to truly succeed. Even in MySpace days I talked with people who were just struggling to succeed. I knew a few band members who would develop new tracks every week so they could showcase it to their networks! And they received accolades and validation–albeit from a tiny universe who admired and appreciated their efforts.
That’s when I become a purist–not overnight but soon after. I became the anti-marketer, espousing authenticity, transparency, relationship-building. I would talk to anyone who would listen, as if it was an epiphany moment! And it was! When I started blogging 4 years ago it was merely an outlet for me to verbalize where this all would lead: social, emerging technology and why it would change the way companies operate. Along the way, it also provided others, who stumbled upon my posts, an opportunity to learn. That was pretty cool… and that’s what kept me going.
I worked at start-ups, which help me delve deeper into social and the more I learned the more I became enamoured with the business possibilities for social. I then moved to agency and ironically it was more difficult to sell the notion of social media (despite its increasing pervasiveness) to businesses beyond Facebook and Twitter. Businesses still wanted to control the message and chose to ignore the less-than-palatable public opinion. Embracing social means being able to take the good with the bad and it’s gonna take time before this happens especially in Canada.
So today I am at an amazing company that is in sync with where this world is going… where I believe it can leverage the social web’s strength. Jugnoo.com is doing some amazing things. I’m happy to be part of it. I’m working with some really amazing people. It’s a stacked team headed by a real visionary.
Stay tuned……we are just getting started!