Since I started Fat Canary, I’ve talked to a lot of organizations about social media. One of the trends I’ve seen over the past year or so has been an increased need to bring social media into the organization – no surprise there. The interesting thing has been their reason as to WHY they want to bring social media into the organization.
Perhaps we as PR bloggers and social media pundits have sold our point of view too well over the past four or five years – frustrated by those organizations who “just don’t get it,” but more and more, I’m seeing smart and well-intentioned marketers throwing aside their usual focus on results and driving revenue – you know, that pesky stuff that marketing is actually ABOUT – to invest in social media because either a) their higher ups demand it without understanding it, or b) because the see it as “the next big thing.”
Don’t get me wrong – I think social media can drive excellent results for a lot of different types of organizations, assuming their willing to accept the risk and the culture change that it requires, but not every organization is right for social media. Some require major process and staffing changes that they’re just not willing to make for social media. Some already have the right culture without even realizing it, and with the help of their agency, can dive in and make a serious investment.
The question, when it comes to change, is very well articulated by my friend Joe Boughner.
It seems like I’m splitting hairs but I think they’re important hairs to be split. The tools shouldn’t be leading the strategies. The strategies must define the tools. If your business or association isn’t prepared to be conversational or open, stop trying to get them on Twitter.
I’ve spoken to a lot of organizations who wanted a social media strategy, only to find that what they really needed from us was a solid communications strategy. Sometimes, these included social media components, and sometimes they didn’t, but the important thing is that they were led by outcomes, and not tactics.
I think every organization should explore and understand social media, and that most would benefit from taking the intitial steps of at least listening to what’s going on in their space, but not everyone needs a Facebook page, just like not everyone needs a billboard in Times Square. Marketing is all about understanding your consumer, and bringing relevant information to them while enabling them to inform their tribes about your brand or product. Stop thinking in terms of new media and old media, and understand what your consumer really wants from you – then give it to them.