The larger role of marketers: My favorite lessons from #SocialMitten 2016 – Part 2

By: Kim Farrow

This is the second part of a three part series about my learnings at Social Mitten, Michigan’s largest social media conference, hosted by Social Media Club Great Lakes Bay. If you haven’t already, check out part one.

The theme for this second set of lessons? The larger role of marketers.



Kate Snyder, Principal Strategist and Owner at Piper & Gold PR

This might feel a bit counterintuitive after a commentary on society’s general lack of attention (see the lesson from Charlie Wollborg I referenced in the first part of this series), but this statement is just as true now as it was 40 years ago.

What you say makes a difference in the lives of those around you – and that impact, good or bad, is amplified on social media.

I believe that as marketers, we have a responsibility to use words to create good for our audiences, our community, and our businesses. Especially online, it’s easy to feel completely surrounded by negativity. But, as Kate pointed out, the internet is also home to a lot of positivity, including campaigns like the #ALSicebucketchallenge and #GivingTuesday.

The difference between these campaigns and others is that they demonstrate the potential that social media has to create a movement. Beyond creating awareness, they make it easy for anyone to contribute to social, attitudinal, or community change and help people feel like part of a greater cause.

So how can marketers use their words for good?

  • Find a cause that aligns with your company’s mission and brand – It’s alright to stretch a little bit here, depending on what you and other key stakeholders are passionate about, but be sure that (at least) a majority of your target audience can buy in to the cause.
  • Think creatively about how you can create a conversation or change around that cause – The key is to be authentic and sincere. Consumers today can see right through marketing “ploys”, and a poorly thought-out or contrived plan could be more harmful than helpful.
  • Find a partner organization – If you want to contribute toward a cause, but aren’t sure where to start, try partnering with an organization who has already championed that cause. This can serve two purposes:
    1. It gives you direction or a solid jumping-off point.
    2. It can help you expand your reach to like-minded groups, who probably already have something in common with your target market.

If “starting a movement” is a little too large scale for your organization, DON’T PANIC. You can create good by using social media and online marketing to distribute helpful tips and tricks, or share inspiration for your audiences. Your goal doesn’t need to start as “change the world” – rather, use your marketing voice to create something positive for your audience and community.


“You are more than a social media person.”

Emily Hay, Founder & CEO of Hay There Social Media

THIS. Remember this.

This statement encapsulates one of my strongest beliefs about marketing and branding: that customer service is a responsibility shared by EVERYONE in your company who may directly or indirectly come into contact with your customers. This includes your social media team, finance team, and the people who physically work to produce your products.

Far beyond choosing the right cat video to share, social media managers have the opportunity to make someone’s day, build lasting relationships with their audiences, and change a negative experience with a brand into a positive one.

Unlike many other marketing tactics, social media is a medium where audiences choose to interact with, like, or follow a brand. This means that the experience you give them should be worth their time and attention, especially when it comes to customer service issues.

Develop a plan for how customer service duties will be handled online. It’s best to designate a point person (and support team) for addressing customer complaints, questions, and praise on social media. Emily suggested having responses prepared ahead of time, but be sure to customize them based on the situation or individual so they don’t come off as canned.

If your budget allows, invest in a good social media monitoring platform. That will help you know when anyone mentions your brand on social, even if they don’t tag you or use a hashtag.

For inspiration, check out the “Tweets & Replies” section on Zappos’ Twitter feed. Known for their customer service, Zappos’ social media team addresses every concern directed their way, acknowledges praise, and strikes up conversations with people who tweet about the brand in any capacity. Plus, they do it in a pretty amusing way.

Did you attend Social Mitten 2016? What were your favorite lessons? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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