Event Review: “Social Media For the Long Haul”

Event Review:  “Social Media For the Long Haul”
David Friedlander
  • 16 february 2009

“Here’s a brand strategy: care.” So said WineLibrary.TV‘s Gary Vaynerchuk at the concluding panel of NYC’s Social Media Week called “Making the Brand: Social Media For the Long Haul.” The discussion included Vaynerchuk, Ian Schafer (founder/CEO of interactive marketing agency Deep Focus), Brian Morrissey of AdWeek, and moderator John Adell of

The consensus at the talk seemed to be that many companies treat social media as a tool divorced from branding strategy. They bring on social media ‘experts’ who help use it without addressing the underlying corporate malady: that unless a company cares more about listening to its customers’ needs than talking at them, social media will get them nowhere.

“It’s like the Wizard of Oz,” Schafer said of companies who use social media with the wrong motivation. “We pull back the curtain and it’s like we suspected—there was nothing there.” He said later, “If your brand is broken, you need to address that…if you don’t, you will be called out.”

Whether being “called out” is perceived as a hazard or an opportunity seemed to be difference between who thrives and dies in the era of social media.

“Listening becomes a marketing strategy,” Morrissey said, but he cautions it must be “active listening.” They pointed to as a company that uses social media effectively. They are not successful because they know how to wield the sword of social media, “they are successful because employees take the corporate culture seriously,” Shafer said. Engaging customers is important to Zappos. Facebook and Twitter are just examples of how they engage.

Incidentally the day before the panel was Charles Darwin’s birthday. Shafter said of the man, “most people had it wrong. Darwin didn’t say, ‘only the strong will survive.’ He said, ‘those that adapt will survive.’”

This goes for brands, too: in an era where “there is no filter,” where “all of us are the media” as Vaynerchuck put it, those who are willing to adapt to social media’s growing value and roles will be the ones who will survive.

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