Will Marketing Muck Up Social Media?
As a publicist and promoter, my view is that social media is, just that, MEDIA. It’s new media, as TV once was 65 or whatever years ago.
Social Media is NEW media. It’s not direct mail and so it should be used to generate engagement and relationships and trust via thought leadership. This will drive new business and opportunity over the long haul.
There is NO QUICK viral fix (it happens, but rare and usually fleeting).
Social media content must be consistent and interesting. No, it won’t hit home with all, but if handled correctly it will be absorbed by the people who matter (target audience).
And I am all for quality advertising, but not the junk that has cluttered TV or radio by any means! My hope is that marketers/businesses/people stop the “When will I see my ROI” and the expectation that every message and link posted will attract a new customer, client or sale. The social media marketing term needs to go away. Marketing should be all-encompassing in all areas of media: print, television, radio, web and or social media.
A response comment to: Will Marketing Muck Up Social Media? – Forbes 7/5/2012
By Shel Israel
First, a brief history of mass media:
There once was a Golden Age of Television. During that time, some pioneers of the new media talked about exposing everyday people to opera, theater and fine arts. They talked about proving the sort of information that could build a better-informed electorate.
After a few years, the decision makers decided, “Screw it. Let’s give the masses I Love Lucy and get rich selling cigarettes and detergent.”
There was once a Golden Age of social media, when people talked about the ability to find useful, interesting, valuable people to talk with all over the world. Businesses of all sizes discovered that there was great value in listening and engaging with customers and other relevant people. What had once been one-directional monologues became two-directional dialogs and most people saw that it was good.
Then the marketers got their hands around the throat of social media strangling engagement and stuffing messages down its throat.
This is where we are at in social media. The medium that has already demonstrated miracles is in danger of becoming the same sort of vast wasteland that TV became. I wrote about this back in February and do not wish to be redundant, but in the last four months, I’ve seen an avalanche of disturbing evidence that the marketers are taking control of a medium and in so doing are damaging that which makes social media special, different and so very powerful in so many ways.
Here are a few solipsistic observations:
The language has changed. Six months ago, we social media people in large companies were still talking about listening engines and the daunting challenges of measuring engagement. Now I am hearing about making social media “more transactional,” rather than conversational. That difference can be fatal to quality in a very short period of time.
The org chart has changed. In most large organizations social media started as a skunkworks, set aside from the traditional organization so that they could innovate and even disrupt to help bring companies and customers closer together. Social was seen as an enabling technology, able to serve diverse needs of many departments. With increasing frequency, it is now being moved into marketing, where decision-makers are trying to make it a better marketing tool at the expense of support, recruiting, product development and more. Organizations are back to measuring social media programs in terms of ROI, which makes as little sense as determining the ROI of wearing clothing to a business meeting. There are just some things that have obvious value, but are very hard to measure in dollar value.
Listening is ebbing. Shouting is flooding. A few years back, it was striking to have a Dell guy say he was sorry that customers were enraged over support. Or a basketball team owner admitting that the coach overreacted, or the vice chairman of an automaker using a blog to take on an unfair auto review. The sort of startling, human, candid and conversation-igniting stuff is becoming as rare as it was before social’s advent. Instead, we are seeing tweets and posts, videos and blogs that are back “on message,” with individuals using the corporate “we” as if they spoke for tens of thousands of fellow employees all marching in happy harmony to the relentless drum beat.
Social media is not yet a vast wasteland by any measure. The Give Lucy-ites have not yet won, and those who consume social content are not about to start hacking from inhaling what the marketers are selling. But in the world, where changes come at the speed of the internet, I see danger here.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not arguing that social media should not be used to market goods, products and brands. I’m all for it. But social works best when you use the classic definition of marketing: that it’s about relationships with customers and that markets are actually conversations. Certainly, using social media to create interest, awareness and excitement among customers and prospects is very legitimate.
But do not confuse conversational marketing tactics with smarmy sales hype. Do not confuse the value of getting others to say you are great because you have done something great with hokey promotional vote gimmicks.
What is being lost has enormous strategic and value potential for enterprises that steer the smart course. You can collaborate with customers to make your products better and bring them to market faster. You can use social media to reduce traditional marketing launch costs. You can have a 24/7 focus group composed of people who care rather than get paid. You can start conversations with the best and brightest members of your community and recruit them as employees, partners or vendors.
All this and so much more. It is not all about to hurl itself into the air and fall onto a spear. But there is danger here and I hope that if you are part of the millions of people who touch upon social media strategies, you give this matter some serious rethinking.