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World of Mouth


As a marketer, it’s part of my job description or maybe even my raison d'être to embrace and endorse new ways of connecting people, or finding new ‘touch points’. I’ve got to tell you, I’ve tried, no really, I have. A late adopter to Facebook away from work, I immediately fell in love with the international phenomenon. How wonderful to connect with old friends from 20 years ago. I was happy to go along with the world as we discovered a new way to look and talk about life with the introduction of ‘likes’ ‘pokes’ ‘status updates’ and ‘timelines’. This was closely followed by the obligatory photos of toes against a tropical backdrop, pictures of exquisite looking eggs benedict with a side of ‘nom nom’ and ice bucket challenge videos.

The end of an affair

And then my love affair with Facebook came to an abrupt end (as abrupt as you can end your relationship with a network who didn’t seem keen to say goodbye). I was beginning to see through my day job just how powerful a marketing tool Facebook was becoming, and was frightened by how much information one entity was holding on so many people. In my mind, Zuckerberg never cared about creating a global community. A very clever man, he knew from the outset the importance of data and understood there was money to be made in exploiting it.

Mixed messages

In the meantime, every client I worked with asked for a social media strategy because ‘everyone else is doing it’. My advice to them was, unless you have something of interest or a relevant message, don’t bother. No-one needs to see a picture of a burnt pig with the caption ‘Had a great time at our Christmas office spit roast’. Yes, that really got posted.
I have also worked on successful social media campaigns via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Engagement was particularly high for competitions where businesses were talking directly to consumers.

I now work in a business-to-business environment and ponder about the benefits of social media. Over the last few years I have seen a number of new specialist agencies pop up who are social media and content experts. Inbound automatic marketing software such as HubSpot and Marketo have become popular with both agencies and clients alike, and the shift from traditional media channels to the digital world has been nothing short of revolutionary.

Don’t get me wrong, digitisation is great and exciting, but I feel that we’re still all on a massive learning curve in this area. We’re entering unchartered territory with out-of-date laws on data control and privacy. I believe there is a real need for independent regulation and a how-to guide for agencies and clients on how to navigate the opportunities that all these new digital channels afford us.

Back to basics

What I do know, is that whether you’re a business talking to consumers or one that talks to other business, there are some sensible pointers in ensuring you spend your marketing budget wisely:

  • Define who you are talking to (target market)
  • Stipulate your budget
  • Find out how to reach them (communication channels)
  • Work out what you want them to know (key messages)
  • Know when the campaign will start and finish
  • Review creative as both a brand ambassador and the person(s) who will view it: 
    • Is it on brand?
    • Does it make sense?
    • Does it include a call to action or a guide to what you want the target audience to do next?
    • Is it clever or smart or funny or appealing or relevant and most importantly, does it answer the brief?
    • Is it measurable?

Don’t forget to let your audience opt out, and don’t approach them in a way that you would find offensive, no matter your communication channel. 

I’m sure in time, together we’ll crack the nuances of this brave new world (fingers crossed). My advice in the meantime? Play nicely, you never know who’s watching.