I have been thinking about this for a while because I keep bumping into the same situations (well, people) over and over… This won’t be a lengthy post because I am more interested in seeing if you are having the same experiences as me. If so, I am really interested in your thoughts.
What are the four faces of social media? Well, as I have encountered them…I have settled on:
The Social Media Purist: The person who truly embraces social media as the conversation that the tools allow people to engage in from day-to-day. The tools might change, but the ultimate goal is to listen, learn, share, and converse with customers and prospects. For the purists, it’s about the conversation and the strength of the relationships that lead to strong business relationships. And the relationships affect all departments within a company because everyone employee is responsible for a great interaction.
The Marketer/PR Professionals or Ad/PR/Interactive Agencies: For the most part, a lot of these folks (for now, I hope…fingers crossed) see social media tools as just that…tools. They are tools that are used to push one-way messaging. It’s not about the conversation, it’s about the medium and more places and people to share the message when traditional marketing like advertising, PR, direct mail, events, etc. aren’t working or delivering. It’s what most are comfortable with, and I get that. While this mindset might work in the short-term…it won’t work long-term.
The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Gang: Social media is about the tools that help generate the links. It’s about getting clients on Digg or StumbleUpon. It’s about stuffing keywords into every nook and cranny. It’s rarely about the conversation. Because SEOs are typically paid on results, they aren’t paid for helping clients engage in conversation. Or, it’s because they are making money for themselves by selling off highly ranked sites or by monetizing social sites…it’s purely business, not conversation. And yes, there are some SEO’s that get the mix of social media and SEO…I’m thinking about Lee Odden or Li Evans or Wil Reynolds.
The End User (that would be the customer): In the end, they are the people who are stuck combing through all the blog posts, tweets, and Internet links to find information that’s truly relevant to them and right at their fingertips when & where they need it. They want information or feedback that can help them to make a sound purchasing decision or the information that can help them do their job quicker, easier and better. They are the ones looking for conversation, but are the influencers that are most often forgotten by the marketing/PR/agency/SEO folks.
What’s going to happen here? And by here, I mean the world of marketing. I don’t know about you…but I don’t think social media isn’t going away any time soon. You all know me, I am obviously a purist. I enjoy conversation and I think it has many indirect and direct benefits to business and revenue.
So, should we find a way to get everyone to work together? Or will the social media purists eventually be pushed out by the marketers who continue to try to control the market and the SEO folks who are just looking to fill Google full of irrelevant links? Or, does it not even matter? What do you think?