Are You Eating Your Own Social Media Dogfood?

October 10th, 2011 No Comments

Eating your own dogfood is when a company uses the products it makes.

Good Dog Food

Frequently, marketing teams don’t eat their own dogfood when it comes to social media.

And the result is often bad strategy.

Everyone now seems to be clamoring for “Social media.” “Open up a Facebook page,” they say … even if they don’t know why. Go Viral … even though they are lacking positioning.

Social media strategy frequently requires a Groundswell strategy, including:

  • Breaking down silos: operating across all touchpoints, including marketing, sales, customer service, R&D, etc.
  • Letting go of control: user-generated content
  • Realistic goals: it’s not viral but expectations aren’t realistic
  • Frequent, quality content. It’s not a montly newsletter or static website.
  • Allowing employees (Forrester’s HEROes)
  • Data & Analytics Focus, on a short-term and long-term basis
  • Technological Literacy: These tools are digital and need computer literacy
  • Corporate rules that allow for information gathering and social media access

However, this is not how traditional marketing, with its origin in brand management and reliance on one-way, static print, operated.

Therefore, traditional marketing, with its silos and technophobia, is often unable and unprepared to make working Web 2.0 marketing strategy that drives realistic business results (including, simply staying in business).

Marketing Profs also writes about why eating your own dog food is important.

    1. Creating a great online community or social-marketing program has just as much to do with the philosophy behind the effort as it does with the tools that facilitate such offerings.
    2. Just as the field of email marketing adopted best-practices like opt-outs and truthful subject lines, the discipline of community building and social marketing has best-practices that should be upheld. Anger your customers by posting fake comments in your own blog posts or talking trash about your competitors, and you’ll pay through negative PR, or worse—customer attrition.
    3. In such a transparent environment, there is little room for error. (Just ask global PR firm Edelman how its “Wal-Marting Across America” campaign for Wal-Mart turned out a couple of years back.) You also need to make a lot of decisions on the fly, so having an experienced “pilot” can make for a much smoother ride.

One of the reasons that companies use their own products first is to test them in real situations. With social media, too often your executives and marketing strategists are building strategy without understanding what the social media channels can and can not due and their cultural “language”.

We still have people talking about MySpace.

On the other hand, we also have some who throw in vocabulary which doesn’t actually make sense to anyone who is actively engaged. And others who are quick to berate their team for not being on the newest fad (when they don’t know how it’s going to work), begging companies to get a company page on Google+ (which don’t exist yet) when Google’s senior management isn’t even eating their own dog food, ignoring social strategy like the POST Methodology.

But you must eat your own dog food.

If not, your clients, customer, and community know.

According to David Armano, EVP of Global Integration at Edelman Digital:

you’d better show an intimate grasp of the space. Because, we’re all out there—Googling, Digging, looking for signs that you know what you’re talking about. Take a page out of Marcy’s book if you are in one of these roles. Engage people in relevant, meaningful ways and add a few notches of credibility to your belt.

If you’re not eating your own dogfood, it’s clear. You’re not credible. You don’t know what is going on with your customers, and your community, and you are probably also making bad strategy, causing significant damage to your business.

If you’re looking for an agency or hiring, ask the following questions (from Marketing Profs):

If you’re a brand looking for a company to build your online community or create your social-marketing program, ask that company the following questions:

  • Does it philosophically embrace the concepts that it’s asking you to adopt (e.g., transparency, authenticity, and a “give before you get” approach to value)?
  • Is it practicing what it preaches by blogging, engaging customers through its own customer-support community, commenting on other industry blogs, and engaging the public in places like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter?
  • Does it have “community” or “social” experience working with brands like yours?

If you don’t like dogfood, it’s time to get a taste for the Kibbles.

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