I wrote a rather ranty blog post the other day following an opinion piece on NMA suggesting that social media wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
The whole incident got me thinking about the reasons why some people, brands, agencies, marketers etc. find social media so difficult to understand and get to grips with. Afterall, it’s not rocket science and the vast majority of us use it in our personal (and often professional) lives on a daily basis.
I’m more and more convinced that the real reason for misunderstanding social media is that, more often than not, it is approached with an old media/marketing mindset.
Because that is the key challenge for brands. It’s why so many marketing industries have struggled to get to grips with social media. PR runs scared because it diminishes the role of media relations. Advertising is scared because it doesn’t let you buy your way into people’s living rooms. SEO is scared because it is reducing the power of natural search (just ask Google). Direct marketing is scared because it challenges the role of email (and offline).
These however are all worries that can be overcome. PR has a fantastic opportunity to use its traditional skill-set to engage directly with end users. Advertising doesn’t need to worry about a lack of paid-for opportunities on social networks. SEO can add social media into it’s toolbox and influence SERPs in new ways. And even DM or email can link up with social media to reenergize and increase the effectiveness of campaigns.
Social media is just another channel and whether your background is earned or paid media, there are opportunities. But the old techniques and tactics just won’t work. We all need to adapt and learn new ways of using this new channel.
Often however, to get the most out of social media, it needs to be integrated with other marketing forms. This isn’t a new approach. Very few brands do PR or advertising in isolation. Marketing departments exist to ensure that all marketing activity across all channels is unified an integrated to a certain extent (or at least they should). And social media is no different.
So, investing in social media is important and requires new skills and approaches. But, just because of this, don’t silo it, integrate it into the rest of your marketing activities to get the best returns.