I’ve found as a blogger sometimes when I let something swim around in my head for a while, all the pieces I need to make a point or share my thoughts seem to come together like a puzzle. I’ve been pondering this post since early September, but yesterday and today it finally solidified (for me anyway).
I have said more than a few times that I am not a fan of the term “Social Media Marketing.” Maybe it’s just semantics. Maybe I am just being staunch in applying the marketing and communications definitions and principals that I learned long ago and have implemented for ages.
Here’s the reason why the term social media marketing is not working for me: social media is about sharing and discussing information. It’s communications, not marketing. And yes, of course, companies can indirectly market themselves through communications; we’ve been doing it for eons (at least one-way). But a good communicator does not always make a good marketer nor does a good marketer always make a good communicator. They are two different disciplines.
After all these months, what is cementing this notion for me? Well, for one it was the comment that Eric Brown (@eric_urbane) left yesterday. He, and rightly so, is very upset about ‘social media marketers’ not delivering. Eric commented:
“… Social Media 101 tells us, as business owners we need to be transparent, we need to participate in the conversation and allow what we do right and do wrong to hang out there on rating sites, blogs, and forums for the whole world to evaluate, yet very few Social Media consultants or agencies are willing or have done the same, at least I don’t think so. So, after running around in my underwear for the last three years while practicing Social Media for all to see, I would like to see the same from the Social Media firm or consultant I am contemplating to hire.” He goes on to comment “…our small business paid out a lot of money to folks who didn’t know what they were doing, but claimed to. I see this forthcoming as a huge issue in our industry, and think a lot of money will be spent on the carpetbagger side of the fence, giving this Social Media space a black eye.”
The issue at hand, as I see it, is that a lot of people are adding Social Media Marketing as part of their service offerings, but they haven’t spent a day doing the marketing part and because of that they struggle with implementing social media as part of an overall marketing strategy. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t consider a company being advised to set up a LinkedIn or Facebook group or to have a Twitter account marketing (and in some cases, it’s not social media either). There’s much more to marketing (like product, distribution, pricing).
Yes, I know. The video is about PR, not marketing (or is it?). But, last time I checked, PR fell under the ‘P’ in marketing that is ‘Promotion.’ Shel also included a link to John Bell’s (Ogilvy) post on The 13 Skills of the Public Relations Pro of the Future, which includes a link to a post discussing how PR folks need to understand Creating Integrated Marketing and Communications Strategy. (Integrated marketing communications [IMC] was introduced in the late 90s by Don Schultz, Clarke L. Caywood, et al–it’s not a new concept. It may be new to some or it could be, in some cases, that social media is finally forcing the implementation of it).
“The walls between marketing and communications are dissolving. A new marcom organizational standard is already appearing where multiple disciplines, most notably public relations and advertising are rolling up to the same leader inside brands.”
Really. Huh. Really? I guess I am fortunate enough to have always had marketing (including product development/management/branding), communications and PR in one department (very small and very large companies). That said, I have heard from marketing friends who work for large companies and agencies that the brand managers don’t always report into marketing and that PR sometimes reports into the CEO, or horror…HR. No doubt these types of reporting structures always present communications challenges.
I am not beating up on Ogilvy or John Bell…not at all. It’s a great series that John has and given my recent rant about the PR industry, I think A LOT of PR folks need to listen to what John has to say. But, what all of this says to me is that this mashup of social media, communications (advertising, PR, WOM) and marketing is going to cause a lot of issues and people like Eric Brown (and his budget) will experience the brunt of it.
Why? Because the mashup will allow for people to offer services like Social Media Marketing or PR Communications or Marketing Relations or… (really, you don’t want me to go on right?) without having a firm grasp on any of the disciplines that they are trying to deliver or implement.
Trust me, I agree with John, the walls need to come down and the need for two-way communications is forcing a sledge hammer through the walls.
But at what cost?