It appears that Social Media is still in its early stages when it comes to the small to medium business circles, some haven’t heard of it or even know what it means.
This past week was filled with engagement and affirmation, discovering I truly do find value in these Social Media Networks, which means the time, I spend here and on Twitter, FriendFeed and the like, is not a complete waste of time. If you are like me, you like to surround yourself with sharp, smart, like-minded people. I love collaboration and bouncing ideas and concepts around, especially with those I consider smarter and more creative than myself, it makes waking up fun. For years I chased the Brass Ring climbing the corporate ladder, only to find I was not only unfulfilled, I was missing the opportunity to do the very thing I was supposed to do. My destiny is to help others, I have the gift of helps, I may not relate to everyone but I will relate to some. We all have the same problem of relating to others, we will relate to a certain few but not everyone. The very core of Social Media is relating and building relationships.
One of the many things I have learned this past year is, that Social Media is here and it’s changing how we do business and reshaping how we relate to clients, consumers and customers. I’ve also had to the deal with the lack of understanding business owners have of Social Media, they just don’t get what it can do for them yet. That’s yet, but they will. The early adopters are always looking for the next thing and start the trending. Here in Canada we are slow to jump on things but we do catchup at some point, there are a few of us paying attention and help start the trend so we can inform and teach those interested. Those early adopters who do feel alone do so for sometime until the enough hoopla and fan fair happens and then we are recognized as the authorities on the topic.
I was chatting on Twitter with a couple of people that (@thebrandbuilder & @treypennington, @johnlusher) I would call friends and I would even be so bold to say we are like-minded, we were scratching our heads wondering why some get Social Media & others don’t. What is it about businesses and marketing departments are trying to push a square peg into round hole? They keep trying to make traditional metrics and thinking work with Social Media and yet, still can’t figure out the ROI. I shared about a conversation I had with a local business and that’s when Olivier got wound up, @thebrandbuilder said, “Do they at least understand R.O.I. and Social Media separately? As individual topics?”. He also said, “If Marketing Departments learned this stuff, they wouldn’t have to work so hard to prove their value”. Trey, the calming voice said, “Must be patient with them”.
There are a few examples of businesses making good use of Social Media but they are merely scratching the surface, these leaders are the R & D departments for many businesses learning the ropes. The problem is, how can you tell who get’s it and who doesn’t. Who should you consult with and who can you trust. Hopefully, you will follow me and my friends as we share not only the differences but maybe even direct you to the right people.
After this chat I asked if they would participate in this article, if they had the time, afterall it is the long Labour Day Weekend 🙂 I’ll thank Trey and John here as they have provided some perspective for you to digest.
You don’t have to be a “guru” or “expert” to realize that the world of marketing has changed. Social Media is opening connection and communication directly between companies and the individuals within their marketplaces. What hasn’t changed is the prevailing corporate attitude toward social media. Instead of embracing social media and experimenting with new ways of engaging their customers, organizations from the US Marines to the Southeastern Conference to ESPN have attempted to ban, block, hinder, or restrict social media.
Their actions are reminiscent of one going through the stages of grief. Those who try to block social media at work are in the denial and isolation phase, pretending that social media is either a plague or childs’ play. When their efforts to isolate themselves from social media fall apart, they move to anger. This is the phase mainstream media is today. You’ll see their anger when they write stories about the “cursing old man” who is now a huge celebrity on Twitter, even though he only had 28 tweets at the time of the article. The same article also gave the lowest estimate of Twitter users (six million) I’ve seen in a very long time.
(source for “cursing old man,” he now has a book deal! As of today his Twitter account @shitmydadsays only has 30 tweets).
At the moment, I can’t think of a good example of the bargaining phase, but I’m sure we’ll see it soon. It’ll probably look something like a corporate civil war with marketing and public relations silos publicly questioning why their company had to add a whole new silo for the social media kids.
Once they realize social media is here to stay, actually, when they realize social media will move from the tail wagging the dog to being the big dog, they’ll write articles and give keynotes about the “glory days of marketing” or the “glory days of real public relations.”
Sadly, by the time those within the corporation get to the acceptance phase, what they’ll have to accept is working for a boss who is considerably younger than them. The big bosses (all those famous C- level folks) will have to accept that their most profitable market segments are now being happily serviced by young upstarts who “got” social media back in the late 2000s (like IBM and Digital realized in the early 1990s when they saw what folks like Apple and Sun and thousands of other “kids” were doing to them).
Or, corporations can take a crash course in grief now, and get it over with.
Communication tools are changing at an amazing pace and most businesses aren’t sure what to do or how to get involved. Social Media is a prime example of this situation and the Social Media Fog, in my opinion, is the uncertainty that businesses face when they try to figure out what they should be doing as it relates to these newer tools. Unfortunately, the majority of businesses in the SMB category, are not doing anything. SMB owners are so involved in the day-to-day running of their business, that they do not focus on planning for their business or marketing their business. Typically they use the old and tried but not true methods of marketing their businesses; phone books, television, radio, newspaper, print, etc., without realizing that their customers and most consumers do not use those tools to find businesses.
Social Media is the closest thing to word of mouth marketing for a business and should be evaluated as part of every businesses marketing plan. Does that mean that every business should use it? I don’t know; that question has to be answered as part of their overall business plan and marketing strategy for each individual business. I do know this, the demographics of people (i.e. consumers) using social media tools is more in the 40-45+ range than the 20+ range.
These people are the ones that have the money to spend and will consistently search for businesses and products online.
If businesses do not cut through the Social Media fog and evaluate these tools now; they will play catch up when they are forced to do so later.
This article is does not cover the ROI question but I’ll leave that to Olivier Blanchard @thebranderbuilder as he is the master on the topic as of this writing. Be sure to visit the website’s of these fine people, I’ll list them for you here and you can find the links on my Blog down on the right sidebar. Also, if you know others you trust on this topic please feel free to let me know so I can list them here.
1.) Trey Pennington – http://www.treypennington.com
2.) John Lusher – http://www.johnlusher.com
3.) Olivier Blanchard – http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com
As with most things in life, when they become popular everyone jumps on the wagon, it’s human nature, jumping on the wagon doesn’t mean you have a good understanding of what you are involved in, but being involved gives you a chance. As more and more considered experts are found out, the confusion will continue but those who can truly help business owners implement and maximize Social Media will give it the credibility it richly deserves.
Keep in mind, it’s just another tool in your marketing tool box, it’s not as complicated as it appears but there are some new tricks to learn before you jump in and embarrass you and your business. The other issue is, organizations having to hire someone to handle Community Manager and Communication roles, they think tradition job descriptions represent Social Media accurately. They don’t. Again reflecting their understanding of how Social Media Network environments communicate and function. This is due to old management thinking, they are doing what they have been taught and conditioned to believe, therefore, thinking they are doing the right things right fails them. Hopefully they will recognize they don’t understand it and will bring someone in who will help lift the Social Media Fog. If they do that, The Social Media Fog Will Lift.