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Most web 2.0 initiatives are disconnected from core marketing processes

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A recent survey from Anderson Analytics conducted for the Marketing Executives Networking Group found that most marketing executives are sick of hearing about web 2.0 and are going back to basics this year – putting renewed focus on satisfying and retaining customers and investing in research and insights.

Duh…what were they doing with their web 2.0 stuff in the first place? Were they trying web 2.0 programs in a way that was not connected to satisfying and retaining customers?

Unfortunately I think that is the case. Many web 2.0 programs are not connected to core marketing business processes and are not measured the same way as you would measure the impact of any other program on those processes. And when the economy hits the skids, the first things to go are those with soft returns or those that fall outside of the core business needs.

It is unfortunate that companies feel that way, because those that integrated their web 2.0 efforts within their core marketing processes, and measured the impact on those processes the same way as you would measure the impact of any other program, derived great results from it and are now doubling down on those social media initiatives. In the long run, they are the ones that will steal marketshare from their competitors.

So how did this happen?

Two reasons: bad advice and low risk tolerance for risk on the part of many marketers.

Let’s look at the bad advice first. The market is littered with companies and individuals who are claiming to be social media/web 2.0 experts. Some claim to understand social media and web 2.0 but in fact they do not, and build pretty websites masquerading as communities or corporate blogs with no or poorly designed and administered commenting capabilities. They stick to their legacy business, whether advertising or PR, and put social media lipstick on their offering. Unfortunately that does not work. Then you have a slew of social media/web 2.0 pundits – many of whom have never been responsible for any marketing process. They think that all marketers are evil and that you cannot put an ROI on any social media program. Unfortunately, their advice does not deliver results either. Now, don’t take me wrong, there are some great agencies and individuals that really grok social media and web 2.0 and how it can be used to improve and transform your marketing results.

Then there is the fear of the unknown that is plaguing many marketers. They knew they had to try something in social media and web 2.0 – often times getting pressure from top executives to do so. But when they did it, they did it in a very timid fashion – starting small underfunded pilots that never delivered results. So now that it is time for cutting, it’s easy to make decisions on canning those.

The other unfortunate aspect of this attitude is that we are dealing with programs that engage people to help us or help one another. When people do engage, they expect someone to engage back with them and they spend or build some of their social capital in the process. When you have programs like that, even in pilot, you cannot just shut them down without angering people. It’s not like an ad or a direct mail campaign, where you can test it and then shut it down if it does not work without getting people upset.

The good news is that those who do it right will gain game-changing results – forcing others to follow suit. So while we may have suffered a temporary setback in terms of adoption, it is only a setback.

This will not prove to be another fad.

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