Does Social Media Even Exist Anymore?

There's a lot of passion out there for social media and it's incorporation into every aspect of our business and personal lives. It's almost reminiscent of Christian revival of the late 1960s and early 1970s (remember the "Jesus Movement"?). Everyone wants to preach the good word of social media and it's amazing healing powers. Those that believe will see heaven and those who don't will burn everlasting in a lake of fire. . .yes?

Recently, I read a post from Mr. Jay Baer who operates a wonderful blog called “Convince & Convert”. The article, “Why You’re the Key to Social Media Success”, noted that in 86% of companies, executives are still not using social media. “The biggest obstacle standing in the way of companies’ embrace of social media isn’t the tools, or measurement confusion, or even being able to make the time to do it day-to-day.” states Mr. Baer. “The biggest obstacle is corporate culture.”

Corporate culture - the policies and procedures that define how a company will operate. Sure the social media tools are there but who has the time? Or the resources? Moreover, in corporate culture many approvals are necessary to create any new ideas. New ideas are easily dismissed as too risky or even unnecessary and with social media there are very few hard facts available as to return on investment. So they still do business the old-fashioned way: using traditional marketing, identifying prospects, presenting the benefits of their product/service, and closing the sale. Face-to-face in most cases. And that's the way most companies will continue to do business unless someone can show them that this simple time-tested formula no longer works. And you know what? The formula ain't broke.

In this social media craze we seem to have forgotten how many profitable companies, large and small, have successfully grown their revenues, customer base and trust over the years (and continue to grow) without the help of social media. So, if 86% of company executives are still not using social media, what does that mean? That they're now foolish? That they’ve suddenly become rigid? That the company will meet it’s doom unless they utilize social media immediately despite offering a quality product at a competitive price, delivered with exceptional customer service?

No. What this means is that most companies are not yet ready to invest money or resources on social media training & research because social media can’t really be defined. It doesn’t exist anymore beyond a label. There are too many avenues for a company to consider when choosing the right social media strategy. A video campaign on youtube? Sounds simple enough! Just have to identify a company representative to speak on camera, get the already overburdened marketing department to come up with a good script, then have the PR department take a look at it, purchase a good video camera (or hire a professional video production company?), find a location…and then what? Just stick it up on youtube? Hmm, well maybe a facebook fan page would be best. But what do we put on it? Photos? Events? Who will manage it? How do we get people to “like” us? How will that help us get more sales? Scratch that, let’s go with a blog! So who will write it? CEO? VP of Sales? How often? What do we write about? Oy vey!

Fortunately, there are a plethora of self-proclaimed social media “gurus”, “experts” and “consultants” out there (most of whom have never worked a day in their life in corporate America – check the bios!) who will help guide you through the stormy social media seas. They’ll tell you about the handful of companies that have had some measure of success through social media campaigns (usually larger companies that have the budgets and resources to investigate social media strategies) and warn you of your company’s impending doom (in about 3-5 years) if you don’t accept facebook as your personal Lord and savior. “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” ~Matthew 24:11.

I strongly believe that in the coming years, research will prove that social media can be a very effective part of a company’s overall business plan and you will begin to see the investments into the development of social media manager positions and training in more and more companies. How big a role social media will play in a company's overall business plan will be determined over time. 7-10% is my guess, mostly in customer service/retention, which could still mean millions of dollars to large companies. At that time, the social media revival will begin to ebb as more and more companies kneel at the altar, confessing their sins and being spared eternal damnation.

Back in the late 80’s, the Pixies, an indie pop rock group, were the darlings of the underground alternative rock scene. We believed they were the second coming of The Beatles (they were) and people who didn't dig them were "squares". Well, as soon as they were getting regular radio airplay and going platinum, we no longer wanted to associate ourselves with the masses who just a year ago couldn’t recognize the greatness of our beloved band. When everyone’s "getting it" its no longer cool…right? So we began our hunt for the next best kept secret in music. . .we found it in a band called Pavement.

Something else will surely come along for people to get passionate about and perhaps one day social media won’t be the buzz-word it is today but rather just another communication tool. It’ll become common. And until "those who do" engage with "those who don't", social media might never be more than "...sound and fury, Signifying nothing." But I doubt that very much. I think it’s here to stay. Like Jesus.

Nuff said.

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