By Anna Seacat
According to Anthony Curtis, Mass Communication Professor at the University of North Carolina, the first social networking site, Friends Reunited, was founded in 1999 by an organization in Great Britain, which wanted to help users relocate former classmates. Since that first site of social networking began, marketers have both realized the value in social media and developed social media marketing principles to guide their efforts to extract the value. In the following post, I will show how one of Pearson Education’s youngest brands, Pearson IT Certification, is using social media principles within its digital marketing efforts. It will be suggested that Pearson IT Certification’s social media marketing activities are effective because its marketing team is properly utilizing two social media marketing principles. Each principle will include video commentary from Kourtnaye Sturgeon, who is the progressive, yet grounded marketing leader at Pearson.
Principle #1: Use Corporate Objectives to Guide Social Media Activities
In Social Media ROI, Olivier Blanchard proposed that, in order to ensure the effectiveness of social media marketing, organizations should incorporate best practices within all of their plans and corresponding online activities (2011). The first social media principle offered by Blanchard was to design every social media marketing plan around and tie every corresponding activity to corporate objectives. It is evident throughout Pearson IT Certification’s social media activities that their marketing team is relying on this principle. For example, the brand’s Twitter account adds value to Pearson’s objective to provide exceptional customer service. One such instance of this occurred on September 11, 2013 at 9:17 p.m., when a customer of Pearson IT Certification tweeted about a possible issue with one of its exams. The very next morning at 5:10 a.m., Jamie Shoup, Senior Social Media Manager at Pearson IT Certification, tweeted her email address to the customer and offered to pass on his feedback directly to the editor. In this case and in many similar cases throughout Pearson’s Twitter feed, the social media tool is being actively used to achieve a customer satisfaction objective.
Furthermore, in many cases Twitter is proving to be a more efficient and effective customer service channel than traditional ones. For instance, in the past customers had only a few cumbersome communication options, such as calling a 1-800 number and emailing a generic customer service address. Because of the bad reputation that these tools have earned, good and faithful customers were not always inclined to invest the time in contacting a company with helpful suggestions, as the Pearson IT Certification customer did via Twitter. But, since Pearson’s Twitter account enables customers to reach out directly to a high-level marketing person, rather than a call-center operator, at a time that is convenient for the customer, rather than during stiff customer service hours, the customers are more likely to engage with Pearson IT Certification around constructive topics.
Therefore, this channel is effectively increasing customer satisfaction, saving money by diverting demand away from a costly call center, and improving Pearson’s products. And, all of this is being accomplished through the natural engagement between two like-minded professionals.
Principle #2: Use a Measurement Best Practice
After Blanchard explained that social media marketing tactics should be guided by corporate objectives, he suggested that measurement best practices should be put into place. However, he made a point to note, “Just make sure your measurement practice serves specific purposes (not just monthly reporting for the sake of it)” (p. 80). An example of a purpose for a measurement program would be to calculate ROI of social media marketing. Of course, as explained above, this purpose must be tied back to a business objective, such as customer satisfaction and revenue generation. According to a 2012 study, seventy-eight percent of marketers stated that customer engagement was the leading business objective that social media helped them achieve, while fifty-one percent said “revenue generation was a lead objective” (eMarketer, 2012).
Pearson IT Certification uses a robust measurement program to determine if its social media marketing efforts are fulfilling stated objectives. Kourtnaye Sturgeon, Director of Marketing at Pearson Education, revealed that revenue tied to referrals from her brands’ social media channels increased 43% from 2012 to 2013, indicating that her department’s social media activities are, in fact, working to grow revenue (Personal communication, April 4, 2014). Sturgeon and her team are on the cutting edge of integrating online social communications into Pearson’s marketing communications in a meaningful way. They establish how a social media channel can add value to a corporate objective and measure its effectiveness in doing so, which helps them show ROI on their marketing efforts.
In a 2012 article in Search Engine Watch, Angie Schottmuller shared that “Only twenty percent of marketers are planning social media goals before tactics” (2012, Next Steps…section, Para. 1). However, it was shown above that, by allowing corporate objectives to guide social media tactics, Pearson IT Certification is able to measure the effectiveness of social media activities and establish ROI. While some marketers struggle to quantify and justify the time and money invested in social media marketing, this post showed that Kourtnaye Sturgeon and her team at Pearson prove every day that their efforts make meaningful contributions to increasing customer satisfaction and revenue generation.
Blanchard, O. (2011). Social Media ROI, Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your
Organization. Indianapolis, IN: Pearson Education, Inc.
Curtis, A. (2013). The Brief History of Social Media. University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
eMarketer. (2012). Marketers don’t just measure fans and growth, but build relationships and
connect with fans. Retrieved on April 7, 2014 from
Shoup, J. (2013, September 12). @vcenternerd Thanks can you email me and we can send this
directly to the editor. Jamie.firstname.lastname@example.org thank u! [Tweet]. Retrieved from
Schottmuller, A. (2012). Social Media ROI: To Define a Strategic Plan. Search Engine Watch.