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How Defense Contractors Can Cut Through the Fog of (Social Media Marketing) War

Defense contractors who are able to demystify social media can get invaluable customer feedback, build stronger relationships, increase awareness and develop new business opportunities.

photo credit: ToddMorris via photo pin cc


The great Prussian military analyst Carl von Clausewitz coined the term "fog of war" to describe the uncertainty in situation awareness during military operations.

War is an area of uncertainty; three quarters of the things on which all action in War is based on are lying in a fog of uncertainty to a greater or lesser extent. The first thing (needed) here is a fine, piercing mind, to feel out the truth with the measure of its judgment.

To many defense contractors, a similar fog of war applies to the adoption of social media.  Defense contractors know what social media is. The problem is that most don't know how social media interacts with current and potential customers, and how it can drive awareness, sales, profitability and loyalty.

The reason for this is twofold: 1) social media seems nebulous, and 2) there's no single measure of social media's financial impact.

In a McKinsey Quarterly article, 4 steps are offered to frame social media as it relates to a the "consumer decision journey." Framing social media through this paradigm has helped companies tie their social media activities to profitability. Additionally, this approach has helped companies improve their marketing and operations to leverage the benefits of social media.

  1. Monitor - To borrow a military acronym, social media is like an LP/OP (listening post/observation post). Even without engaging customers directly, social media should be continuously monitored t0 glean insights and to warn of potentially negative publicity. It is also important to communicate the information quickly to the right channels within the company.
  2. Respond - Responding to social media is just as important to monitoring it. Responding to social media can provide customer service, uncover business opportunities, and respond to crises. The ability to respond quickly is only going to become more important. Doing so rapidly, transparently and honestly dramatically affect customer attitudes, preference and loyalty.
  3. Amplify - This involves designing your marketing activities to prompt people to engage with you and share with others. For instance, sharing content or videos which prompt your "community" to interact with you and others. Your followers can then wear their association with you like a badge and become your brand advocates.
  4. Lead - Social media can and should be used proactively. Social media can raise awareness prior to a purchase, to introduce new products or make announcements, and to get product development insights from customers in a relatively inexpensive way.

Click here to read the full article, "Demystifying Social Media."

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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