Social Media is dead
While some people prefer a cosy niche, I don’t like pigeon holing people. It feels too narrow in scope to bring out potential.
I’ve never been enthused that Advertising creativity is specialised within the traditional silo’s of media. I have always seen advertising as a whole, with channels appropriated to suit the customers. And now I am at odds with self appropriating the title of Social Media Strategist.
I can carry this title because I came to use the tools and platforms long before many in advertising were aware that they were potentially of consequence to marketing. Ten years ago I was initiating mobile phone marketing, online forums and various web tools that companies could use to reward, educate and motivate staff. At the time it was considered HR oriented, and not appropriate to Customer Relationship Management, but already, back then I knew the time would come.
Instinctively I knew that as the general public became more educated they would decide how they wanted to engage brands, and that time has come. This is a new era. A time where consumers will shape brands, customer service and product development by choosing at which level they engage. More importantly, by making public their views of the brands observed day to day.
I appreciate that company titles make people comfortable. But I envisage a future paradigm where we will have planners who have advertising and marketing skills across all channels. There won’t be Digital specialists, Social Media specialists and Traditional Media specialists.
We will all be adept at thinking through the big picture and running an idea into many facets of branding. And most importantly, gathering the public feedback and devising engagement via Social Media platforms will not be left to Public Relations staff, but will be entrusted to those who understand the full impact and quality of this data, in the manner of Direct Marketing analysis.
This requires an understanding of the psychology of your target market and marketing of your brand as a whole. This insight will guide you in the best way to move forward.
So if a Social Media Strategist approaches your company, ask them what they’re actually offering you? Many such people focus on sending out blanket emails to bloggers or to online survey groups offering sampling, but how do they integrate that into your marketing as a whole? What data will they give you in return and how well do they know the online influencers they are dealing with?
You may be approached by a Social Media ‘Expert’ who is a smart phone application developer or those who will tack a forum or a blog onto your website, but they may only be offering the physical structure. Again, what will they broadcast, how will they converse with your customers and what data will they collect? Do they train the advocates that moderate these platforms or will it be left to you? Do you know how best to interact with online communities?
My advice would be to find a company that is already offering a three hundred and sixty degree view of your brand’s marketing. Find a company that builds your brand personality in a variety of ways across traditional and digital media. But they must also have Senior people able to use Social Media as a quality research tool, who understand the online stakeholders who can build your brand by word of mouth and to provide utilities that suit your customers, as well as being cognisant of the importance of online Customer Service.
Backing that up they’ll need resources that can provide you with the bells and whistles of new media that engage customers. That would be in the form of widgets, Smartphone applications, online TV and radio, to name just a few of the goodies on offer in the Social Media grab-bag.
It may seem premature to declare the death of the Social Media Strategist. I call myself one because via long term immersion, I am one of the rare few brand advertisers that understand this medium, overlooked by many in the industry. But I know that as I educate others, this will no longer be a specialty, because brands ultimately deserve broad thinkers.
The title Social Media is already redundant among early adopters. It is now known as the Semantic Web. It is the natural evolution of communications and in a relatively short time, your brand will also evolve. So please, future-proof your brand by putting it in the right hands.