Social Media Gets Slapped Upside the Head
Writing on Advertising Age, brand strategists and author Jonathan Salem Baskin wrote, "The conventional wisdom of social marketing is an effort to breathe new life into the all but dead presumptions of branding, only with one small catch: It can't make it work, and the only way anybody can claim otherwise is to fudge the stats, time frames and expectations for tangible results."
Damn, dude! Them's fightin' words! You're going to have the social media guru army all over you in a matter of minutes. But you know what? You're right. Well, mostly. Social media isn't the cure to everything. It can help. But not to the seeming exclusion of all other forms of marketing...which appears to be what's happening these days.
Social media is yet another tool in a marketer's arsenal. There was print. Then there was radio. Then there was TV. Then there was cable. Then there was the web. Now there's social media.
Not every brand need engage in it as Baskin argues. In his example, does a hub cap fastener really need a social media strategy? As a direct means to sell more fasteners? No but by Baskin's own admission, social media does have a place in the mix.
About how the hubcap fastener can grow his business, Baskin concludes, "He needs to sell better hubcap fasteners, and there are a wide variety of operational ways he can do so. Sharing that reality with his customers is the marketing opportunity offered by the social web, not a substitute for it. Isn't doing anything less, or different, just a distraction?"
If he's arguing that we place too much focus on social media as a cure for all that ails advertising then yes, it is all just a distraction. Social media can't replace good 'ol sales efforts. After all, isn't that what marketing is all about? Increasing sales and moving more product? Do we truly care what people think of our brand as long as they keep buying it? Do we really want to enter a conversation with them? Do they with us? Or do they just want the information they need at any given moment to make an informed product purchase?
Yes, social media does have a very important place in the marketing mix. No, it's not as important as we all make it out to be. Yes, I'd love a job "doing social media" for a big brand. No, I wouldn't expect to be the darling of that brand. But, yes, if by using the channels and tools social media have provided us I was able to move product for that brand, I would be a very happy man.
Yes, every brand should consider social media an important element of the marketing mix just as they did when the web hit the scene 16 years ago. But, no. Every brand does not need to "join the conversation" or "engage their customers" or become a publisher or hand the keys to the brand over to the consumer.