Instead of asking “why” use social media many marketers are simply looking at “what” to use it for (advertising and marketing seem to be the obvious). Learning “what” to use it for is easy (follow the crowd) but understanding “why” seems to be missing.
An answer to “why” ought to contain qualitative and quantitative rationale for spending time and money using this thing called social media. After all, money is time and the time spent using social media can rob you and your organization of productivity.
So Why Are Marketers Using Social Media?
Many claim that they are using social media to build their brand, sell more stuff and simply to be social. Just pick up any trade publication or attend any digital marketing conference (said conferences are popping up every week everywhere) and you will find that social media is apparently being used for everything, including bad breath. The answer to why seems to focus on fuzzy ambiguities rather than logical business cases.
The Ad Contrarian writes: Last month, in a post called “Zealots, Maniacs, And Hustlers,” I said,
…”we’ve developed a reputation for being anti-digital media and pro-traditional media. We are neither. We have no personal interest in, or allegiance to, any medium. Our only purpose is to fight bullshit, hyperbole and words without meaning. We are against zealots, maniacs and hustlers of any stripe.”
There is, perhaps, no area of marketing more full of hype and bullshit than social media.
Separating the BS from the Logic
An article in American Express Open Forum says:
“Senior marketers were asked which components of their current digital marketing programs—search, email, display advertising, social networking, and mobile advertising—delivered the best results.
Only 11% cited social networking… and another 11% said “I don’t know.”
So back to the social media question of why and beyond the hype. People and organizations ought to do some soul searching aimed at what causes us to ask why and is it relevant.
The great divide between marketers and consumers as it relates to “all things social” is intent. Intent to “engage” for social purposes is a lot different than the “intent” to “engage” for transactional purposes. Yet intents to engage for social purposes in fact represents transactional value that marketers seek. The difference in the approach is largely the difference in “results” the consumer seeks vs. the marketer which in the end could be the same.
The Difference is How each Gets There
Marketers seek best practices for engaging consumer awareness into a transaction. Consumers seek practices which gets them relevant and relative information from “friends” concerning information about anything and anyone. One approaches the process from a “marketing” methodology. The other approaches the process from a “relational” methodology.
Marketing vs. relational methodologies are opposing forces aiming at the same result. Opposing forces create resistance. The pathway to removing resistance is the optimum way to improve results. A pathway that follows the buyers preferences and intents would seem the most logical pathway to results. Said pathways are not obvious to historical processes when the medium changes the process by enabling buyers power and connectivity.
The fact that only 11% of marketers cited social networking… and another 11% said “I don’t know” which digital media produced the best results may mean marketers have yet to figure out the pathways to the “how and why” of the new medium.
I am not a marketer rather a strategist. So all I know is that when the “system” changes the old methods and processes must change to achieve any measurable result from the new system. The first thing required to optimize a new system is to remove the restrains. Then maybe we’ll understand why.