I’ve noticed more and more folks taking shots at the value of social media. For example there’s Beware of Social Media Marketing Myths from Gene Marks in Business Week. It’s a natural evolution, I suppose, since social media has pretty much been hyped as the way to riches, better looks, and total self-actualization. I mean, this weekend my local paper had articles on twitter in three different sections, including sports. I get it, I’m tired of the hype too.
But, this is exactly the cycle that any valid innovation or trends goes through to settle in. So, to me this is a good sign that social media participation is just about to settle in as a mainstream business tool. Range back a little more than ten years ago and you’ll find media coverage claiming websites were nice distractions but not really something businesses should take seriously. Of course, blogging emerged in 2004, made the cover of every magazine in 2005, was promoted and hyped as the way to riches, better looks, and total self-actualization in 2006, bashed as overhyped in 2007, and is now a standard business tool that has evolved into the mainstream marketing plumbing. (Oh and by the way, notice how there are very few blog experts left selling get rich with blogs.)
So the crescendo of social media’s hype has reached the point where it’s almost trendy to bash it, and to tell you the truth, debunking some of the get rich with no work elements attributed to social media is a good thing, but to suggest businesses ignore the power of social media because it takes a lot of work to see a payoff is just downright silly.
Yes, it’s a lot of work to fully participate in social media, but it’s a lot of work to write white papers, create case studies, attend networking events, establish relationships with journalists, and train your entire staff to be marketing ambassadors for your firm, but you do it so you can compete and grow.
But, one of the reasons social media is or seems like a lot of work is because of the way most businesses approach it – no plan, no objectives. If you view any form of social media participation as a random act of marketing you will get sucked into the vast stream of busy activity and find little of no value. Like any marketing activity you must enter it with specific goals, a defined plan of attack, a message and content strategy, a measurement path and ultimately a way to turn your activity into leads, traffic, and sales. This kind of approach will help you narrow your social activity to the places and things that matters, help you eliminate unnecessary activity, and keep you focused on total marketing integration. See, social media participation is just one aspect of marketing a business, you need to treat it that way and keep you eye on the big picture.
So, ignore the overhype, conclude that you need to work to make it work, tie your activity to objectives, integrate your offline and online activity, and stick with it and the power of social media will help you gain tremendous competitive advantages in your industry.
I think Lee Odden probably sums it up well with this quote from a recent post, A Case for Social Media – “Why social media? It comes down to gaining a competitive advantage. I like the quote from Oliver Young at Forrester Research: â€œMarketers who embrace social media will outdistance competition, build community following, and boost loyaltyâ€
And, if you need anymore convincing that the hype on social media is about to die down as it too becomes a necessary part of the marketing plumbing, consider this quote from Jack Doresy, creator of twitter at Internet Week New York, “Twitter’s a success for us when people stop talking about it.”