Social media marketing is no place for control freaks
There are a lot of things you need for a successful social media marketing campaign. Perhaps the most important is the right mindset. Social media is unlike traditional marketing platforms. Print, television and even first generation online marketing campaigns were largely one way conversations: marketer to potential customer.
Social media is more of a conversation and to properly leverage it, marketers need to be prepared to listen as well as talk. They also need to be prepared to relinquish some control over their campaigns. The idea of a campaign going viral sounds pretty appealing. Thousands upon thousands of people linking, retweeting and embedding as you sit back and watch your brand equity grow.
But as the social media community takes your campaign and runs with it, it's no longer your campaign.
A classic example of this is the Dove Evolution campaign, which used videos posted on You Tube to exploit the power of social media. The videos went viral earning Dove millions of dollars worth of free media.
However, the videos also spawned a series of even more successful spoofs. On the one hand, this was yet more free media, but probably gave the brand managers a few sleepless nights.
This would certainly have been the case when a member of the social media community re-cut a Dove You Tube spot warning of the negative influence the beauty industry was having on young girls. In the new version, viewers were reminded that Unilever, which owns the Dove brand, also owns Axe, which is known for its rather less wholesome portrayal of women in its marketing campaigns.
Dove's marketing team would consider the campaign to have been, on balance, a big success. But it shows that social media is a very different animal from traditional channels and anyone using social media as a marketing platform needs to go into it with their eyes wide open.