Wednesday, June 15, 2011

C'mon, marketers, WAKE UP!

This is going to be a rant. No, this is going to be a I'm-mad-as-hell-and-I'm-not-going-to-take-it-anymore rant. My apologies in advance....

Have you seen this blog entry by Peter Shankman? This may well be the single most important thing written about marketing this year. Maybe even this decade, although I won't go quite that far. If you're a marketer, please read it, then do some close, personal reflection.

Shankman's main point: Never lose sight of the primary role of marketing strategy. If you start from the perspective that you've got to use social media -- or any particular medium, for that matter -- no matter what, you're doing it very wrong. Period.

I am tired of all the marketing hype about social media. We as marketers need to be careful about what I see as a serious misreading of what's happening with the so-called media revolution. (Just a side note. The revolution did not start with the invention of Facebook. It started with Gutenberg's printing press and movable type. Read up on basic communication history if you disagree.)  Let's unravel some of the hype.

Social media is two-way communication. Yes, there is opportunity for interaction. But look at both the content and the use of social media forms. There's tremendous voyeurism in social media use. It's really not quite a conversation. In many respects, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and their ilk are more forms of self-publishing than conversation. For many users, they are merely forms of entertainment, not conversation.

Social media are replacing traditional media. I've commented many times before on this. This argument is pure bunk. It's just not true. Explain why television viewing and radio listening are at all-time highs. If you study communication history since Gutenberg, you learn very quickly that media are rarely replaced. Rather, they simply adapt.

"I get all my news from social media." I heard this exclaimed yesterday by one of Wichita's leading advertising executives. Her argument was to avoid television news coverage "because no one watches television news anymore."  While it's true that social media deliver news in all forms, they are really just consolidating news from other sources as well as allowing individuals to publish their own version of "news." Be careful here. When you're reading news on social media, or from any Web channel, check the source. Often that news is coming from newspaper and broadcast news rooms. You're not really doing something so revolutionary. You're just not getting your fingers inky.

"Even if you can't measure results, use social media anyway." Holy @$%#&!  I read this all the time in the marketing trade. Why do marketers just give up on all the progress our profession has made over the past two decades? If you can't measure results, your aren't doing your job.

Wake up, marketers!  There's no doubt that social media are an interesting option among many options we have to reach and interact with people. But your clients are not asking you to experiment with social media. They're asking you to solve their business problems. Start focusing on your clients' needs and stop drinking so much Kool Aid.