I guess Social Media has arrived and I should say that I’m not surprised by some of the things I see these days. It was bound to happen.
Really good friend, and someone I admire, Erica O’Grady, pointed me to a very interesting conference coming up that has temporarily deflated my hopes for elevating and empowering marketing communications passionate marketers along with it.
The conference is not in any way, attempting to mask its intentions…
How To Use Blogs, Podcasts, Wikis & Other Social Media Tools To Find Clients, Make Money & Create the Lifestyle of Your Dreams
Sign me up. I have dreams too and after all these years, I could have been living “the life.”
And good friend Geoff Livingston recently observed,”Almost every company, client and person I talk to in corporate marketing wants to create a social media program. But there’s a lot of execution without thinking.”
Johsua Porter recently discussed the problem with Social Media Marketers who promise to leverage Social Media Tools to “create buzz and demand for your product” He continued, “I don’t know exactly what was meant by this, but it sounds like causation: that if you use social tools to talk to your customers then you’ll increase buzz and demand.”
The truth is that these are simply the latest examples of new opportunistic marketers selling themselves as experts in Social Media. What’s worse, and to be expected, is that we will only see more of this behavior and posturing each and every day.
While some of us viewed it as an opportunity to empower people to discover and contribute valuable and helpful content, others are cashing-in on Social Media by hawking their vision and strategy, or lack thereof, on unsuspecting businesses looking for genuine help. Instead, these impressionable companies are getting the very “marketers” Social Media should have inspired to engage and evolve in the first place.
If you’re one of those marketers, I guess you’re ship has arrived. Grab that golden ticket and run all the way to the bank, while you can.
Perhaps we can package Social Media “how to…” kits and sell them on QVC or hire Suzanne Somers to help us push it through informercials. There’s also going to be a new reality TV show on cable that follows Social Media gurus around as they help companies engage their customers in conversations and hypnotically transform them into evangelists and zealots. “The Social Media Whisperer” starts this Fall on Bravo.
Obviously, social tools can be effective. But, just because you can blog, update twitter, podcast, create wikis, navigate social networks, create online profiles and groups, upload video to YouTube, and vote on digg, doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly an expert or a “guru” in Social Media marketing. At the very least, it makes you knowledgeable on the subject of how to publish content.
There’s a stark difference between publishing content and influencing market behavior and creating and cultivating relationships throughout the process.
If nothing else, Social Media is about people. Whereas traditional marketing has mostly been a faceless process of getting people to take action.
In order to work together, marketers have to become the people they want to reach, genuinely, in order to be convincing, genuine, and truly helpful. Integrating Social Media into marketing requires companies to humanize their story and create a personality around their brand.
Remember, Social Media is defined by the online tools that facilitate conversations. It amplifyies public opinion and it also provides a channel for people(and companies) to listen and in turn, connect with them.
It all starts with intent.
If your intent is build relationships with customers, then how you approach Social Media will be defined by their needs and your success will be dictated by their response.
After intent, the engagement strategy is molded by the art of listening and what you learn about the very people you’re trying to reach, where they go to learn and share information, why, and how.
Observing and listening reveals the culture of each online community and the understanding of social sciences including anthropology, sociology and psychology, will help marketers better understand their customers behavior. Without first listening, watching or reading, you can never learn where your customers are, which tools will reach them and how to approach them.
Context and relevance are the very things that resonate and inspire.
Now, if your product consistently falls short of meeting expectations (meaning, it sucks), then no amount of Social Media marketing is going to improve their experience. However, listening, engaging in conversations, and learning, can all loop back to product development to improve the product/service for the next iteration.
It’s a value chain. Everything works together.
If we can encourage Social Media marketers to sell themselves from a more holistic, genuine and experienced position, then we can improve the overall future for marketing communications along the way.
Is this realistic?
All we can do is try to empower businesses to identify those exp
erts who can truly help them without learning on their dime, insulting communities, or damaging their brand.
Perhaps after reading this post, the conference organizers can amend their marketing and positioning this way…
How To Use Blogs, Podcasts, Wikis & Other Social Media Tools To Find and Help Customers, Build Your Brand, and Earn the Business You Deserve
Update: Steve Rubel on, “SEO Shenanigans Pose a Clear and Present Danger to Social Media”