Is Social Media Dead? At a recent conference, a friend and I had to admit that we were bored by the social media discussions. It seemed that nothing fundamentally new had happened in a while. Same old, same old. Or at least that’s how we feel, as we “do” social media for a living.
This led us into a conversation about where social media is headed. There seems to be a great divide between businesses that are heavily invested in social media (examples: SAP, Cisco, eBay) and companies that are scraping the bottom. Even inside the enlightened companies, there are social proficient employees (often this is their job) and those who are still trying to learn what a hashtag is (their boss told them to “get with social media”).
What does this mean?
Let’s take a step back.
Social media is dead. Or rather, social media used in isolation is dead.
Point in case: Marketing. While no company has a “VP of Email Marketing”, there are plenty with a “VP of Social Media”.
Isn’t it about time to roll in social media with marketing communications, PR, and Analyst Relations? Yes, the important term here is: Integrated Marketing. Social media in isolation makes no sense.
Is this a good enough solution? No.
Social media is dead. The Social Business is alive; or should be.
In the age of inbound marketing, the traditional marketing model is no longer working.
Client A purchased a product and that was usually the last he/she heard of Company B. If the product was good, Client A told a few friends. If the product was bad, Client A told a lot of people.
Client A purchases product and expects to stay in ongoing contact with Company B.
If the product is good, Client A might rate it online (e.g. Amazon) and tell her/his friends on Facebook or Instagram about the good experience. If Client A LOVES the product, he/she will go to great lengths to let their online network know.
If the product is bad, Client A will let Company B know – via Twitter or Facebook etc. Client A will also let their entire online social network know that they are unhappy at the same time. Client A expects to receive a response from Company B to their complaint. If Company B does not respond, Client A will get even more upset and continue to voice their displeasure online.
What This Means For Your Business
- Marketing no longer ends at the point of purchase.
- Marketing, sales and customer service can no longer operate in isolation to meet customer needs.
- The traditional marketing (and sales) models do not make it clear who would be responsible to “market” in the post-purchase cycle. Many think it’s the role of customer support now, but is this function properly trained and have the right resources to take on this role?
The only possible conclusion is that a business can only succeed in the age of social media if it becomes a SOCIAL BUSINESS (and in order to keep things simple, I am not going to go into mobile, digital etc. as integral parts of such a strategy; let’s just call it “social media” for now).
A Social Business does not only integrate social media into every business area that touches customers and prospects (again, I am excluding other uses of social here for simplicity’s sake), but also adjusts to the new mandate of a social world by restructuring their business.
What is “social selling”?
Every time I hear the term “social selling”, I am not sure what that really means.
I get it if sales people listen to social channels to learn about their prospects’ needs, but “social selling” generally also refers to sales people being online and sharing information. As the relationship between a sales rep (especially in B2B) and a client is generally private, what can a sales rep possibly share that is not already being shared by marketing? Well, maybe a few very savvy sales people could create their own content but that defeats the purpose of marketing as the part of the organization that primes the market to purchase from sales people. It’s not efficient.
My point is, many “social selling” solutions work like this: marketing people put content in a repository that sales people can then share easily via social media, maybe adding some insights. If sales is sending out this content, and marketing is sending out this content, isn’t this duplicated effort, resulting in the appearance of spamming?
The solution is to restructure and redefine marketing and sales in the age of social.
- And that’s only the start. A social business starts with a social CEO, who leads the charge.
- It also starts with education for employees on how to best use social; training that goes beyond how to make a post but includes how to set objectives that matter and how to measure them.
The Bottom Line
Social Media (in isolation) is dead. Integrated social media is alive. And the Social Business is the nirvana we should strive for.
Now, very few businesses are Social Businesses yet; some are on the way.
What it really is all about is nothing new: Change Management
Social media tools have changed the traditional way of doing business by extending the buyer’s cycle beyond the purchase. In the 21st century, Marketing is never done. There is a constant feedback loop, and companies have to address the bad and foster the good.
Welcome to the brave new world of the Social Business.
YOUR TURN: do you work at a social business? Or a company transforming to a social business? Reach me directly at @NaThomson. I’d love to hear your experience.