Monday, December 29, 2008

Social Media Marketing requires an attitude shift

This is true of Corporations, their Marketing teams and agencies. Currently, they view it with a trepidation never seen before. Some of them dismiss Social Media Marketing as hype, a bubble that is waiting to burst.

Nothing can be farther from truth than that.

From my interactions with Marketer’s, CEO’s, browsing and talking to the few experts on Social Media, I could draw a picture as to why there is discomfort in accepting Social Media Marketing. Some of it has been well-chronicled and some are my conjecture. It is as follows:

For Marketers -

  • Move from a broadcast approach (which they know a great deal about) to participating in conversations with people who are not there to buy anything
  • Move from a command-control approach to ‘letting go’. There is no formula or established practice for them to fall back on
  • Not sure about the ROI (this is a debate that is unlikely to be resolved soon)
  • Need to adopt a common-sense approach which they abdicated long ago to uninspiring research
  • Need backing from top management as there is a need to be prepared for failures along the way before they strike pay-dirt.
  • They have to hunt, train and create Social Media Evangelists within their organization
  • They have to do it all themselves and not leave it to an agency like in the case of advertising, DM, PR or digital
  • Numerous technologies and applications that seems to be growing exponentially is adding to the complexity

As regards agencies, Social Media Marketing is likely to bypass them completely if they do not act fast. The reason is simple. Social Media is about conversations. One cannot converse on behalf of someone else – it then ceases to be a conversation!

However, there is a need for what I call ‘Social Media Marketing Coaches’. The closest analogy is the coach in sports like NBA, Tennis (can you imagine a Grand Slam winner without a coach), Athletics and so on. The coaches are not the actual players. They are in the sidelines guiding and motivating the players to victory. Agencies need to identify and develop coaches within their system to cater to the growing demand. Or else they will lose to consultants who are aplenty. They will also lose precious income.

Adrian Ho in this incisive article is clearly of the view that Agencies will not have any role to play in Social Media Marketing. It is debatable though.

Social Media Marketing is here to stay. In countries like India, its relevance might be confined to the youth (who in any case form bulk of the population) and to target groups with reasonable internet penetration. However, its importance to corporations is without doubt being established every passing day.

All that Social Media Marketing demands is a simple shift in attitude amongst all of us.

Just be social!


  1. On the other hand, I agree with Adrian Ho that clients will evolve sooner than agencies will.

  2. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  3. Thanks for the visit and those kind words, Ruth.