Social Media Hybrid Marketing


Hybrid visual thesaurus The more I read about social media campaigns without conversations ..  The more I watch companies expand marketing departments to include social media positions that put a premium on tech skills versus marketing experience .. The more I see social media consultants focus on old/traditional messaging wrapped in new/social media Web 2.0 ..

The more I wonder .. I wonder if along the way marketers created a hybrid which isn't social media in the traditional sense of building and nurturing relationships or providing added value to the customer. Let's call this - Social Media Hybrid Marketing.

In interviews I've asked many, many people what social media means to them and the over riding response was two words: people and relationships. In the world of Social Media Hybrid Marketing people and relationships seem take second or third place. The emphasis is on driving traffic, creating buzz, sending the message further into the virtual world where if the digital goddess is kind it will go viral. Consider the following in terms of this new model ..

4 Social Media Hybrid Marketing Tactics

1. Videos - It's leveraging technology to send messages like How Stuff Works YouTube video - that by the way pairs up with TV spots. Or FedEx's series also on YouTube. Sure there may be a social element like YouTube's comments .. however, the emphasis not to develop or build relationships with the customer and the people behind the brand.

2. Blogger Relations/Sponsored Conversations - It's using the relationships/influence of others who are active in social media (bloggers, tweets, vloggers, podcasters, etc.) to serve as the messenger for your products or services. Pulse of the Industry Blogger Relations Series explores the expectations from the point of view of bloggers, brand managers and agency folks. The brand manager often forfeits the customer relationship since the social media content provider is the gatekeeper to her community.

3. Contests - It's contests that capitalize on technology using platforms like Second Life where Coca Cola asked people to design a Virtual Thirst Machine. Or's video contest where the best voted promotional video won $10k. Similar to video messages the media many have social components but they are rarely utilized by those on the brand side of the equation to chat with customers.

4. Digital Idea Management or Viralsourcing - It's when a company solicits customer suggestions on a platform designed to capture intellectual concepts to improve its products/service or company. Frequently there are social aspects from comments to voting that digg it up or down. Dell, Starbucks, Best Buy have incorporated this approach. Some companies seem to be challenged with how to talk to their customers even to the extend of saying "thanks" for your ideas.

Where does that leave us? Are these simply old marketing programs with technology twists and turns? Or additional ways to view social media? Or is social media changing to where the people/relationship side is not the heart of social media but a nice to have on the way to counting the number of views or clicks?


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Your question got me thinking. I think we cannot really answer that for everyone, nor can we generalize it. I guess it's different for everyone. It depends on what really matters to you. Some people actually want more clicks than they do having conversations with others. Some value the conversation more than the clicks, so it's really hard to know where social media really stands.

Posted by: Marcy on Jul 23, 2009 2:15:23 AM

You make a very interesting distinction and not one that occurred to me before. Yes, you're right. These tactics use web 2.0 tools, but don't really allow for genuine communication. There's clearly a different agenda at work. I this is rather disingenuous, actually.

Posted by: Margy Rydzynski on Jul 23, 2009 11:13:18 AM

Great insight! I think TRUE social media doesn't line up with most corporate marketing goals. At its core, social media is organic. Once you start injecting things like ROI and Gross Impressions, it automatically pollutes the conversation. The end result is exactly what you describe.

Posted by: Laura Ciocia on Jul 23, 2009 12:00:38 PM

I think there are many companies who think, "We can do social media marketing, this is easy" but when they really get into it they don't have the time to dedicate to building relationships and it turns into this hybrid marketing as you described it. It becomes all about click-through rates and getting the customer involved in a one-way conversation where the company gets the feedback and the content, but the customer never hears back from the company! Talk about a backward view on being social.
You nailed it with this post. Many companies are using social media outlets but are not putting forth the effort to really be social and build up those customer relationships.

Posted by: Elizabeth on Jul 23, 2009 12:41:21 PM

Thank you all for continuing this conversation. I was/so curious to understand the sm community's take.

@Elizabeth @Laura - it seems many companies are not comfortable without traditional metrics and I know that many are still skittish when it comes to joining in on discussions even on their own brand platforms.

@Margy - interesting the word you use "disingenuous." If we were to look at the same tactics but without the words social media overlaid would you feel the same way?

@Marcy - if I understand your comment the definition of social media might be morphing? It always goes back to goals. Clicks or convos? Perhaps ideally it's both?

Posted by: Toby on Jul 23, 2009 2:02:41 PM

Toby - You had me at your opening paragraph! The social web is creating fundamental change in the business-customer relationship and the savvy ones can sense this coming. Those who don't, see social media only as a tactic "out there" rather than one that actually effects change back inside the organization.

Posted by: Roxanne Darling on Jul 23, 2009 11:46:33 PM

I think people and relationships are still important for effective marketing in Web 2.0. Creating that video for YouTube, AdWido, and Veoh that people will want to share or that contest where people will make videos for you generally showcase your business's "coolness" and improves your potential customers' image of you. It's true that this doesn't have to be the case though; maybe your video is just designed to cause controversy and attention. Either way, this affects the image you have in hopes that someone will approve of this image you promote and be attracted to your product.

Posted by: James47 on Jul 27, 2009 3:57:42 PM

Great food for thought. I think that as time goes on, we will see the situation that you describe progress to even even more impersonal levels. In my opinion, it is not so much individual companies and their marketing departments that move social media engagement away from actual conversations, it is advertising agencies flounder with clients if they cannot find specific ways to tie the spend to very specific outcomes. It doesn't help that most large agencies, in spite of their loud claims of being forward thinkers, are usually dinosaurs that abhor change!

Posted by: Grant Criddle on Jul 29, 2009 12:27:44 PM

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