I came across a good article in AdWeek about how and why social media differs from the broadcast mindset. In the article, Paul Gunning explains that while companies are rushing ahead into social media as the next-best-shiny-new-way-to-build-their-brand strategy, they haven’t yet crossed the reality chasm. Gunning describes this headlong blind rush into social media as “techno-ecstasy” — which I define as the love of being in love with social media.
The phenomenon is musical, really.
The problem is that while traditional marketers and MBAs and HR folk understand what it feels like to “broadcast their message,” they don’t know what it feels like to “jam,” to play with micromarkets in an already-in-progress composition, an evolving melody, on the market’s own stage, in the customer’s own house.
You see, Marketing 1.0 had charts.
Social Media is improvisational.
It really comes down to that.
It’s a struggle for classical marketers to feel comfortable playing social media jazz, because engaging with your market can feel REALLY uncomfortable. You can get dirty. It doesn’t always sound right. You have to Let Go. You can be misinterpreted. You don’t always look good. You can’t control the flow.
On the social web, clams are a given. How you respond, what you make of those mistakes and conflicts, and how you RECOVER determines how you build loyalty, a following, and long-term trust.
You can hear things you don’t want to hear when you decide to join this unending song of conversation.
You can be asked to change things you can’t change. You can be upstaged by the competition, who is allowed to walk right in with their snazzy new thingamajig and tell the same people you’ve been talking to why their thingamajig is better. And they may be wrong, or they may be right, but you may be having a conversation that you CERTAINLY wouldn’t have paid $4,000 to see spread across a full page ad for all the world to see. You might in fact pay double that, if you could, for them NOT to see it.
But you’re having that conversation because you showed up.
According to Gunning, there are some surefire questions you can ask to find out if you’ve been afflicted with techno-ecstasy:
1. Am I focused on using the social realm to listen to and learn more about my consumers, or am I more focused on executing a fan page?
2. How much participation is required to make a difference on my brand? Does adding 4,600 “friends” have any impact on this goal? Is this scalable to the level I need?
3. Has my company trained CSR, legal, HR and sales on our social-media strategy, or has only the marcom department received a social-media 101 session?
I’d add a thing or two here, related to whether a company is ready to play in the social media arena, or whether they should stick to classical marketing in rehearsal rooms a little while longer. Ask yourself:
1. Have I been shedding long enough to understand my sound, my self, my capabilities, what I bring to the scene — or am I trying to pose so that I don’t miss out?
2. Have I really studied the early and fundamental material of this era of change – Have I read Cluetrain, looked back at blog archives from the turn of the century, so that I understand the foundation of this art form before I step up to the mic myself?
3. Am I committed to finishing what I start, to staying in this relationship – group – collaboration – with my customers and colleagues and competitors over the long haul? Can I agree from the start not to pack up and go home early?
Like the business of music, Social Media is not glamorous, except for the fortunate few.
Sure, you have your viral video successes. You have your “OH i WISH that would have been MY company” campaigns. And you have “OH i’m GLAD that wasn’t MY company” disasters.
But if and when you decide it’s time to add to the collective knowledge and shared fun, to the stunning composition of what’s possible, there is one thing for certain: you will be changed.