Fitting The Social Media Cube into a Round Marketing Strategy

It sounds like the opening line of a corny joke. What would happen if an anthropologist, an innovator, a neuroscientist, and a social media marketer got together and decided to create a brand marketing campaign? Would it be chaos or next level marketing at its finest? The idea of linking these concepts together was discussed in my recent post, "Taking Multi-Dimensional Marketing to the Next Level," where I presented The Social Media Cube as a visual representation of this approach. This multi-dimensional aspect is the key to success in social media marketing, but some may question the difficulty of trying to integrate these various disciplines into one smooth strategy. It feels a bit like trying to fit a square cube into a round hole.

Then along comes the book, Marketing in the Round: How to Develop an Integrated Marketing Campaign in the Digital Era, by Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston. In their book Dietrich and Livingston discuss the benefits of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) in the digital age, but don't stop there. Their argument is that, in today's marketing world, too many disciplines try to stand alone. In their fights for power and turf they are not only trying to outdo each other, their lack of integration may actually be harmful to the products or brands they are trying to promote. The book offers a strategy for breaking down the barriers and bringing together all areas of traditional and social media to optimize efforts into one comprehensive, integrated strategy.

One potential negative they point out is that only 34 percent of Chief Marketing Officers today are completely integrating social media into their larger marketing strategies, 74 percent of business-to-business organizations have not yet implemented a social media strategy, and 35 percent of those businesses don't even think of social marketing as being important. Perhaps this is because they don't fully understand the opportunity represented by this powerful new member of the communications continuum. Instead of fully understanding the social medium and the rapidly evolving mobile network, they are trying to apply old rules to a new game. They go at social media marketing in fits and starts and, when it doesn't work, they blame it on the medium. Social marketing cannot be conducted in an isolated environment; it needs to be part of an entire integrated strategy.

What if these marketers took the process of Marketing in the Round, applied it to social marketing, and came up with Integrated Social Media Communications (ISMC)? By opening up and integrating the social, cultural and anthropological nuances of why and how people use social media into their strategies, marketers can begin to understand how and when their messages will have the most impact. If they assimilate the neuroscience of the brain's ability to process information, they will better be able to identify the social media influencers who can help them move their messages out to a desired audience.

Consumers now have so many options for receiving information that it is getting harder and harder for marketers to reach them, but people still need to hear a message a multitude of times before they are willing to take action or change a behavior. That is why it is so necessary to understand the importance of integration and influencers. If the message is not integrated across all approaches it will only serve to increase confusion. Recommendations and input that come from influencers can help to make a message stand out so the recipient will be more likely to take notice.

Collaboration might be the new watchword for the marketing industry -- collaboration within the industry and with those from other fields who might be able to offer unique insights into understanding the mind of the consumer. We need to break out of the silos we've built so rapidly into the social media field and integrate our marketing strategies with cultural and anthropological insights.

As marketing budgets continue to get squeezed tighter and tighter, the importance of engagement and relationships will become even more crucial. One media strategy is no longer sufficient to build market share, so marketers will have to be smarter in how they take advantage of all of the social and cultural tools at their disposal to help them reach an audience, spread a message, and build a brand.

The Social Media Cube fits perfectly into a Marketing in the Round strategy. Marketing components need to integrate with each other, and social media marketing needs to integrate with other disciplines. While overhauling the way we think about marketing as a discipline, we need to include a much stronger understanding of each of the elements included within it. Integrated Social Media Communications is the first, most important, step in next level marketing.