THE BLOG

Look Under the Hood of Social Media Companies

10/05/2012 09:25 am ET | Updated Dec 05, 2012

As CMOs and agencies gather during Advertising Week, the hottest topic of conversation on everyone's lips is social media marketing. And one thing is certainly clear to all: the days of dabbling in social are over. Rearview results and dated demographics are not the way to approach this dynamic and fast-moving channel. Social is the always-on, always-changing channel and the only way to tap into the value it offers marketers is through the use of real-time data powered intelligence. Many companies on panels and exhibiting at Advertising Week may offer slivers or pieces of the puzzle, yet only a select few offer the full suite of tools that marketers "have to have."

Smart CEOs and CMOs have already learned that the traditional rules of the industry do not apply. Social is a new paradigm. Instead of pushing out brand messages, you need to pull in the audience and aggressively compete for their attention.

Who is listening to your message? Social is millions of conversations happening all the time, every day. Marketers should understand that finding their target audience among the chaos means leaning to segment not by demographics, which are static, but by conversations which are dynamic and representative of the channel itself. CMOs need to use science and technology. The process needs to be mechanized so marketers can quantify their audience and mathematically optimize for the greatest benefit, and all in real time, at this moment.

Own it, productize it with good content, maximize your ROI by publishing it when ears are tuned in, and buy the best paid media using real-time data and your brand stands to win. Using real-time information to make data-informed decisions is what is helping marketers make sense of the chaos and value their marketplace not by chance, but by science.

When is your audience most receptive to your message? New algorithms exist to measure and extract knowledge from those numbers. And once you know your audience, it becomes a timing game. What should you publish and when should you publish it? With Social running 24 hours a day, it is no longer about primetime. Premium visibility becomes an equation to capture the intersection between availability and interest. Put a story out there that goes largely un-viewed and opportunity has been missed. Find the sweet spot in the time continuum and you are maximizing the value of your asset.

Who are the influencers that the savvy marketer needs to invest in? The Influencer question is no longer the one to ask -- an Influencer may draw a million clicks to his or her latest Tweet, but marketers need to question whether those million people are truly influential. The more impactful question marketers should ask is how can I build a relationship of trust on social? Marketers who understand the dynamic of trust will be able to deliver messages that are timely and relevant to an audience at the moment they most care to receive them. By consistently giving your audience the information they want at the moment they want it, marketers reduce the kind of clutter that costs a brand its audience loyalty. Accessing technology tools that help you measure the audience with the statistical propensity to deliver your message will give marketers the ability to change the game.

Paid media leads to more earned media -- social is at the tipping point. Facebook, which now has over a billion users, and Twitter, with over 400 million tweets per day, are the most important channels. Owning their audience is the greatest annuity a brand can have. So what does the new business model look like? Paid media will be purchased using real-time data to target key audiences. Then companies will be able to convert a portion of their paid media back into earned media, and it is this continuous loop of earned and paid media that will buy a loyal and growing marketplace. Trust is the people's commodity. And any smart marketer will only partner with companies who have access to the deep level of data provided by FB and Twitter. Don't waste a dime of your monies if your partner has no data from the source!

There has never been an opportunity to reap so much upside, but the risk of getting it wrong is high. The penalty for the wrong message at the wrong time is devaluation, or complete disavowal. The audience speaks loud and with finality.

There are some who will cry that measurement over content is dehumanizing, but science is merely the tool of measurement. It is recognizing that audience attention is a company's greatest annuity. Get the right message at the right time to the right audience and you will be at ground zero for building brand equity that makes a difference for a generation, not a day.