Why Social Marketing Is Still Experimental.

March 18, 2009

Great post on adage.com by B.L. Ochman titled “Social Media Playtime is Over.” B.L. explores why social media marketing seems to be stuck in “experimental” mode.

“Three-quarters of those surveyed who knew their budgets said they allowed for $100,000 or less for social media tools over a 12-month period, according to the report, written by Forrester analyst Jeremiah K. Owyang. And they are not integrating social media into their overall marketing strategy. Instead, they are “experimenting” with isolated tactics and hoping that they will take the place of long-term strategy.”

To me this sounded eerily familiar to the rise of another new channel about 15 years ago. Anyone remember “The Internet”? Obviously there are major differences between the paradigm shift of the internet and social media. However they are similar in their magnitude and disruption to established business practices.

The internet decimated the business models of several industries especially media and music. Where it did not fundamentally affect how product was delivered, it did affect how consumers discovered information and interacted with producers.

Talk with your customers not at them.

Social media is broader based shift. It affects how all producers relate to all consumers not just how product is sold. Social media allows you to talk with your customers not at them. B.L. Ochman makes a great point replying to a question of mine which asked why companies were scared to explore new avenues for reaching consumers.

“Philip – companies are afraid of social media for several reasons: lawyers run the show rather than CMOs, and, since they are not permitted to experiment in a meaningful way, they don’t learn the long-term benefits. It’ll change eventually. But of course by then there will be new tools available for them to be afraid of. :>)

The fear of litigation and being “off message” is so powerful that it inhibits experimentation and entrepreneurship. I wonder which group is more detrimental to the flow of the free market? The government in a communist state or the lawyers in a capitalist one?
The other reason companies are scared is that social media demands participation in communtity. This means that companies loose control of their message and how they are perceived in the market. Companies are very wary of loosing control and I think the prospect of true, bi-directional conversation between them and their customers may point out some truths they’d prefer to keep hidden.

2 Responses to “Why Social Marketing Is Still Experimental.”

  1. B.L. Ochman Says:

    You are so right – the impact of social media is a repeat of the Internet’s initial impact – and the confusion it caused (and still seems to cause in most corporations.)

    I know companies fear losing control of their message, but, for the past 15 years at least, since the advent of the Internet, message control has been an illusion.

    There is great long-term ROI for companies that integrate social media into their marketing. It is my fervent hope that many will soon realize that!

  2. […] 19, 2009 Yesterday I wrote about why Social Media marketing is still experimental. BL Ochman pointed out that fear of litigation is hampering adoption of social media as a channel […]

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