We like things that make us do my job more effectively and more efficiently. However, much of the whole social media push is starting to leave a sour taste in our mouths. Not because we don’t see its value – anything that helps a company connect to its customers and other stakeholders is a valuable weapon in the marketing arsenal.
But, we have a couple of issues with where this part of the industry is heading:
- Social media is NOT a be-all-end-all means to an end. In the B2B world, people buy from people and so there are still sales teams on planes, trains and automobiles every day. Road warriors don’t care how many people are following the social marketing director on Twitter – if you want their buy-in, show them how social media technologies will help them close a sale with an engineering or purchasing manager.
- Technology is only one segment of the economy. Mining operators, metal-bending manufacturers, electrical contractors and other “old economy” enterprises employ thousands and earn billions. There’s nothing particularly sexy about these businesses, but without them the economy would collapse. The fact that social media will likely never have a central role in their sales and marketing operations should not preclude them from getting the same creative marketing and public relations support as new social networking technologies.
For most companies, business strategy might dictate that social media be included in the broad marketing program. For some companies, it might even be front and center. But strategy has to come first. In all instances. Without fail.
So, please, oh masters of social media, do the rest of us a couple of favors:
- Please stop looking down your noses at marketing and public relations people who see social media as something that probably has a role in, but will likely not be the centerpiece of every program we design.
- Please feel free to continue trying to sell “old” companies on how they’re doomed to failure unless they jump into social media with both feet. It makes the rest of us appear a lot smarter when we talk to them about how we’ll develop and implement truly integrated programs that support broader business and marketing strategies.