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Building a Case For Social Media – Educating Senior Executives And Demonstrating ROI On The Importance Of Online Marketing And Communications

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Social Media Influence 2010

I was delighted to join 400 corporate marketing, agency creatives and other experts at the 2010 Social Media Influencer conference which took place in London recently.

I was speaking alongside some very respected names in the Social Media space – including Jeff Dachis, who founded Razorfish, Alex Wheeler from Starbucks and my formidable competitor from my days at The Coca-Cola Company, Bonin Bough.

clip_image003Bonin, who leads social media at Pepsico, talked about their successful Pepsi Refresh (www.refresheverything.com) initiative and how they are using social media to engage with their customers and consumers in real-time. Bonin also discussed some of the exciting social media monitoring and engagement initiatives they’re doing with their Gatorade brand, including the building of a social media command center in their marketing offices in Purchase, NY.

Jeff Dachis, who is now CEO of the social media agency DachisGroup, talked about the rise and transformation of the digital space since he founded Razorfish in 1995. He ended his presentation with a brief look at what he believes the future holds for social media.

When it was my turn to take to the stage, I took the opportunity to remind the audience that executive buy-in remains a key challenge (and opportunity) when executing social media strategies, with leadership expecting to see measurable, tangible benefits of leveraging this medium. If we expect our senior leadership to reallocate media spend from familiar marketing programs to new digital/social initiatives, we must give them compelling data on the value of these projects that backs up our recommendations.

The data needs to demonstrate how successful social media initiatives lead to sales, lower support costs, higher net promoter scores and overall increases in brand reputation and value. Here at Dell, our social media initiatives are delivering on these objectives, and we’re establishing metrics to measure these attributes in almost real-time.

Programs like our @DellOutlet Twitter account are delivering millions of dollars of sales to our bottom line. Online communities (and blogs like this Direct2Dell site) establish and cultivate personal relationships with our customers, and our Facebook and LinkedIn pages have become virtual meeting places where thousands of our customers (and potential ones) are discussing our products and brand.

I closed my speech by saying that as marketers and communicators, we have an obligation – and a responsibility – to actively participate in these communities and conversations when they relate to our companies and brands. The way I see it at Dell, social media gives us the opportunity to empower our ‘ravers’ to be even bigger brand ambassadors, influence customers in the purchase funnel to select Dell over our competitors, educate/inform our detractors about the benefits of our brand and finally, do our best to resolve the issues that our customers may be having.

Note – credit for the image of Bonin goes to Ged Carrol, who has further images from #SMI10 here.

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