He started off by saying that people aren't really interested in a relationship with a brand; they're interested in relationships with other people. If I had a penny for every time I've heard the phrase "we're building relationships" I'd have retired already. Okay, so if social media isn't about relationships, what is it about? According to Adrian it's about delivering more value. The more value you deliver, the more social you'll be and the more buzz you'll create. It sounds almost too easy.
But that was my big take away from what Adrian talked about. Traditional marketing is about making things harder: We have to come up with the grand insight and then we have to create an expensive and complex campaign. Social marketing (a term he uses more than the term social media) is a lot about looking at how your organization provides current value between real employees and real people, and amplifying that through social media. Of course, Adrian says it much better, and with a better accent to boot, but it boils down to this:
Social marketing is a way to do something for people.
One of the most powerful things about social marketing is that you don't have to spend gobs of money on focus groups to find you what customers want to do. You either have to listen to what they say online, or listen to your customer facing employees. The knowledge exists in the system or in social media; the question is whether you have an organization that can act on that information.
As Adrian says, in almost every category you can figure out what people want.
Here's the tough part for us marketers: we love tools and new things. We want a Facebook strategy or a Twitter strategy. Taking the time to figure out what customers say and want is sometimes messy and unglamorous. Implementing a listening culture internally takes a lot of effort to break through ingrained habits.
But its possible by simply using the same approach inside that you would outside. The quote of the day may be: "If you want to change the way someone thinks, change their behavior first" rather than the other way around.
I think Adrian made a lot of people stop and think. I think a few of people in the audience still just wanted a tool guide to tell them what to do.
But for me, these breakfasts have two purposes: To network with other digital marketing professionals around Burlington, and to challenge us to get better at what we do by bringing new ideas and ways of thinking to the table.
The social media breakfast event with Adrian Ho did both.
And it was colossal fun to see everyone there and to follow the Twitter stream on #btvsmb. What a great way to start February.
P.S. This was the first time Adrian and his family had been to Vermont. It sounded like they were impressed. Big thanks to Trapp Family Lodge for sponsoring.