Social media – it’s not a marketing thing…
March 2, 2011 § Leave a comment
Whether you embrace social media or not; it’s here to stay. Social media is part evolution and part revolution. Social media is an enabler; people have gained more control over what they consume and how they interact with content – including brands. Consumers are now active participants on the web – they create and consume content at a breathtaking pace.
As for companies, brand management is no longer a practice of pushing the message out to a market but now requires pulling the consumer back into the brand conversation. It’s much larger than any marketing department can possibly handle without the support of the entire organization.
Most legacy companies do not understand that social media needs to be woven into the fabric of the organization from sales to service. The extent in which a company is limited to the use of social media is only limited to their creativity and ambition. If a brand is serious about connecting with their customer it is essential that they create a strategy in which social media becomes a cornerstone in which to build on.
Sadly, however, most legacy companies view social media as a ‘marketing’ function and this is purely because they do not understand where and how to position social media within the organization. In comparison, ‘new’ companies base much of their efforts around the social media platform and leverage the platform to drive the conversation between company and consumer.
To further understand the impact that social media will continue to have on businesses and their consumers one must understand the evolution of the web. According to Andrew Braccia and Kevin Efrusky the transition of the internet age consisted of three phases:
1) Portilization of the Web
2) Goolge-ization of the Web
3) Rise of Social Media
Portilization of the Web was the birth of content aggregators (MSN and Lycos) and lead generation firms such as Monster.com and Homestore.com. Google-ization of the Web was defined as a boom in ‘niche’ high quality websites and user sophistication. It led to the realization that a search can be seen as an ad for product found in the e-commerce marketplace. Rise of Social Media is characterized as the explosion of content and a power shift in which ‘people rank’ is overtaking ‘page rank’.
So how does a brand leverage what is now being hailed as the greatest digital revolution since the invention of the web (thanks Al). Companies have to think of social media as not simply a marketing tool but a tool to engage and converse with their customers. First, it’s essential that companies strip the responsibility of managing the social channel from the marketing department and begin to look at the channel as an enterprise wide effort. Similar to the evolution of e-commerce, organizations once were shy about jumping in but now have entire divisions focused on integrating their existing business practices with their e-commerce efforts. It will be this same effort that will eventually yield the benefits of leveraging a medium that can compliment both legacy and digital business practices.
Social media is more than just a passing trend, however, it’s still unclear for most companies how to best leverage a channel that is moving swiftly. However, watching from the sidelines is not an option – companies have to embrace social and develop a long-term strategy that will compliment their business objectives.