There is a lot of buzz about online social media and organizations are jumping in to ride the wave hoping to get something, anything and everything. However few people think in terms of social media off line and subsequently do not comprehend what it really is.
I was on a call with a client representative who was trying to sell a prospect on social media. The prospect was talking about using social media to market their business. The representative said “social media is easy and doesn’t cost much and began to leave the wrong impression with the prospect”. After the call I suggested that the client representative not try and sell something that they have no reference to nor enough understanding to effectively inform prospects as to what social media is and isn’t. The client representative responded with “I know what social media is. It is peer to peer endorsements on line used to sell products and services. You try and make it too complicated and your discussion of it is too academic for most people to understand. I can sell social media because I distill it down to a non-academic and understandable level.
Arrogance And Ignorance Are Not “Social”
The client representative with whom I was dealing with has 25 years experience in marketing and has worked for many of the Fortune 500 firms. He believes he understands all things marketing. A likely profile of many marketers trying to use social media to sell something. The illustrated conversation above was off line and the content and context of the conversation illustrated how people who think they know something try and make something understandable without really knowing. Subsequently when trying to sell something you don’t understand you end up misleading others who don’t understand.
The essence of any good conversation, off line or online, is relevant and relative to listening, learning and applying value for the benefit of those engaged. Selling is a relational process and should be aimed at understanding a prospects need before you try and sell them something that doesn’t fulfill the need. Marketing, on the other hand, is a process of leveraging mass media to attract an audience of prospective buyers. Marketing and selling a two distinctively different processes. One focuses on building a relationship based on value while the other focuses on delivering a message to a large audience.
Social Media Is Both Online And Off Line
Social media is both online and off line when you think in terms of building relationships and not in terms of marketing your message. Marketing is a one way messaging channel and social media is a two way communications channel online and off line. The objective of communications is to exchange “conversational value” which both parties, or many, benefit from. Our communications offline can reflect value or not. The same applies to online with the only difference is in reach and impact of communicating.
The current market of “online social media” is rejecting advertising and marketing messages of the past. If 98% of off line ads don’t get any response then why do we think using the same method online will work? If your off line communications doesn’t create value from knowledge then you are not likely going to create valuable relationships that last. If you mislead people about how to use social media by copying what others are saying or doing with it then they and you will become part of the crowd that is being rejected.
Social media is communications. It happens off line and online and the value you create is directly related to what, where, when,how, who and why you communicate. Results come from doing things right and for the right reason. What used to be limited to off line has now converged with online. Don’t believe it? The world does and is trying use it for different purposes. The purpose of communicating has always been and always will be relational, good, bad and indifferent.
Trying to apply old knowledge to knowledge you don’t have can be dangerous.
I hope this was understandable and wasn’t too academic.
What say you?