15 Sep 2010

Social Media and Marketing

Some of the hype surrounding social media could do more harm than good for businesses. Let me explain why.   Social media, used wisely and well, has the ability to do wonderful things for your business, but it's not the miracle diet pill of the marketing world.


We've all seen them, the 'twankers'. There’s no denying that social media continues to experience impressive growth. The potential for engagement and innovation is almost exponential.

Some executives remain sceptical about adopting a social strategy and I can see why. Social media is a young discipline. Few, if any practitioners have a background that is based in marketing (there are some admirable exceptions . . ahem!).

Social Media advocates often argue that the set in stone rules of traditional marketing stifle innovation.   This is unfair.

It's probably fairer to say that traditional marketing fails to innovate as well as social media today. Traditional marketing is top-down. It was never developed as a system of thought and practice designed to create genuine one-to-one customer interactions.   There is the rub.

Assuming social media is more influential than traditional media:

  • Digital spends have increased massively over the past decade, those in print has steadily declined - yet revenues from digital have scarcely met those lost from print.
  • People aren’t prepared to pay for general content any more. Whilst newspapers struggle, other broadcast areas' fortunes are increasing steadily.   TV experienced a minor drop in penetration but studies now show increasing adoption in younger users.
  • Free streaming services like Spotify have not reduced global radio audiences - quite the opposite.

So, what is my point?

Falling broadcast and traditional media numbers have little to do with rising social adoption.

Broadcast media is a fluid, adaptable medium that continues to be the information service of choice for many people. We relax with the Sunday papers.   We trust what we know.

Social media marketers must acknowledge that integrating successfully with other marketing channels and creating a multi-channel presence is the way forward.

Only by embracing tracking, analysis and cold, hard numbers can it ever work.  

There is no other way.

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