Last night Racepoint Group, Digital Influence Group and Larry Weber hosted “A Meeting of the Social Media Minds” in downtown Boston. The impetus for the dinner event was the publication of Larry’s 2nd edition of Marketing to the Social Web, and the program featured a panel discussion with Leslie Reiser, IBM’s Senior Program Director of Worldwide Interactive Marketing, and Linda Boff, iVillage veteran and current Global Director of Marketing Communications at GE.
Both women talked about their roles and the ways in which their respective companies are making inroads in social media – both externally and internally. Leslie highlighted IBM’s Smart Market, an online experience that launched last fall and that meshes Web 2.0 capabilities in a Marketplace and Community to deliver solutions to small and midsized businesses. The program has been a success in the US and India, and will be deployed in China this spring. Linda talked about how new media has changed GE’s outlook big picture, but she also delved deep into examples of improvements in internal communications at GE via social media, efforts undertaken when she was director of employee communications at GE earlier in her career.
The new media landscape has prompted both companies to think deeper about the “soft sell.” In Linda’s words, new marketing is about “storytelling” and shaping marketing efforts via dialogue with customers and employees. While they still invest in television and see value in some print advertising (at least for the time being), they are increasing their digital budgets significantly and decreasing the amount of time, money and attention that goes into traditional marketing channels. As Larry added in, while both IBM and GE are global companies, the new ideas and tools they are using to broaden and deepen their digital footprint are applicable to businesses of all sizes. Companies that embed digital strategies into their operations completely will be the trailblazers and the most successful companies in the future, whatever their size.