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Smarter Marketing in Social Media
JANUARY 2014 · 
Keywords: IBM,marketing strategy,social media, customer
With the coming of social media, marketing strategy has been mutated to meet customers’ personalized needs. In IBM, social media helps marketers better know its customers as a person, and involves all stakeholders to improve its performance.
Smarter Marketing in Social Media
IBM looks at social media as part of innovative marketing strategy to involve all stakeholders and improve its services.

As he has put it, consumers begin challenging conventional marketing strategies with the advent of social media. “Social media has become a new channel between brands and their customers – but one where the customers are broadcasting and the marketers are listening,” said John Kennedy, Vice President Marketing for IBM Global Business Services, previously on The Huffington Post.

By drawing into consideration one of major purposes in marketing which is to impact customers through media, does he mean that the traditional “impact” theory has been vanishing recently in the shadow of social media? Mr. Kennedy shared his thought in an exclusive interview with FBK on December 6.

Mutated marketing for personalized purposes

“I think it represents more of a revolution or mutation,” he said. “Social media is giving a channel for our customers to not only talk to each other and share their observations, but more importantly, share back to the marketers their reactions, opinions and experiences with the brand. so that requires marketers to do a much better job of listening to their customers to get better insights on their experiences, and over time to improve their marketing efforts.”

“I would like to think of social media as a word-of-mouth scale.” Social media is allowing marketers to understand a scale which is happening across all over the market. Traditionally, the marketers might have done surveys or had focus groups with a small number of customers. social media is really allowing for real-time market understanding and research constantly.

Marketers are going through an evolutionary period. “I think that reflects a wide range of new technologies that are available to marketers,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Fundamentally it’s about knowing the customer, increasingly getting to know him as a person... And automatically, working on the brand that is very authentic and reflects corporate character.”

Customers are already expecting the marketing they get is more personal, and marketers have begun to combine the data they know about customers plus new tools and technologies that are available. “I think, over time you will see more of that kind of marketing.”

“It doesn’t mean that every element of marketing mix is going to be personalized... The point is, over time marketing would have the potential to become some more personalized, result in a lot of big data technologies coming in. But more importantly, customers are going to expect us to provide more personalized marketing, and that is going to raise the bar for the kind of work marketers do over time.”

Social media for ‘Social business’ in IBM

Mr. Kennedy previously led IBM’s “Smarter Planet” agenda and a range of other global enterprise-wide initiatives for brand development and marketing execution on a global basis, and also held marketing leadership positions in different places within IBM.

“Companies can incorporate social media to actually become what we call a ‘social business’. He said. “When a company is a social business, it creates opportunities for all the stakeholders of the company – not just customers, but employees and partners – to have conversations and get involved in the way the company operates.”

A big priority for IBM has been to activate its 430,000 employees on social media. “We are a company who is in business because of expertise we have and experts in the company. We’d like to think every IBMer is an expert in some way. Social media has created an ability to make this expertise available to our customers around the world. We have believed that, being active on social media is actually a condition of employment in IBM. We actively encourage all of our employees to be involved to blog, micro-blog and to tweet as a way of opening up better expertise.”

Regarding the role social media can play in IBM’s solutions to its global clients, the vice president draws into sight three major functions of social media. “First, using social media and social listening as a way to get insights in new offerings. Then using social media to get feedback on the performance of those offerings. Finally, using social media as a way for our audiences and customers to participate in the development of those offerings.”

John Kennedy
Vice President Marketing, IBM Global Business Services
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