Cover Story: Social Works
A pounding beat communicates urgency. Avatars explain After Inc.'s problems. Those watching the trailer for IBM's business process management game learn they alone can provide the solutions that will save this mythical company.
INNOV8 2.0 is one way IBM is educating customers about its products. And the simulation was the No. 1 lead generation asset for its WebSphere software brand in 2009, says Sandy Carter, Vice President, IBM Software Group Business Partners. Introducing this game into the marketing mix is one of the moves the Armonk, N.Y.-based software giant is making in its plan to master the social marketing space.
Carter says her niche within Big Blue, the IBM Software Group, has a few core tenets in its social media strategy: "First of all … we don't keep social media separate. Our social media is integrated into our overall marketing campaigns; it's integrated into our overall strategic initiatives [corporate social responsibility, branding, customer service and support, etc.]. … And then what we do is we dial up or dial down based on what our goals are. So we're very much goal-driven, very much focused in on what we're trying to accomplish, vs. … companies who say, 'Oh, my competitor has a Facebook page. Let's do that.'"
In other words, social media is about more than marketing. Instead of using social media as a tactic, the IBM Software Group considers the channel an avenue of learning, sharing and collaborating. The result is still marketing success, but the route to it is fundamentally changed by this philosophy.
"What is the value of a relationship? And can we get close to that?" Carter asks. "Because I believe that today, customers and companies are measuring social media on return on investment, and I think that will stay. But I think the best practice companies will begin to measure this engagement, this loyalty, this connection with the customer, and that will actually be the measure that leapfrogs this return on investment focus that we have today."