Time to read: 3.5 minutes.
The sooner marketers realize “all the Web is a social media” the sooner they’ll improve results of Web marketing. The sooner they’ll be able to integrate social media to drive sales, leads and increase customer value (along side of other key strategies). But so long as marketers treat select Web media as “social” and other as “traditional” they will lose. They are losing. All the Web is a social media — and always has been. Once you see all media as being “social” everything changes. The path to improving Web marketing results is clear.
Web 2.0 hysteria finds many marketers handcuffing themselves by believing in a “faux newness” that does not exist. Social media is “so new”, techie and “so specialized” that it’s separated from email, affiliate marketing — everything else. Result: Digital fails to integrate with offline marketing in ways that create sales, leads and improved customer experiences.
Let me illustrate part of the problem. The industry itself. Marketing Sherpa publishes reports stating that the big problem is lack of professional talent — knowledgeable staff. Really?! None of us are socially adept and few can use Facebook, Twitter, etc.?
Shop.org piles on with a research project of their own. They asked consumers, “What do you do on social media sites?” (Facebook, Twitter, Kaboodle, etc.) in an effort to gain insights for marketers to act on. I respect Shop.org but the results are typical, already known and hence useless to marketers. WE are part of the problem. The report states:
Judging from the results, social media appears to be on the path to becoming increasingly mainstream media.
Social media (the Web) has been mainstream for years!
Thinking it is just now going mainstream restricts our ability to act in ways that drive results — sales.
Again, the presumption is that some parts of digital/Web media is NOT “social media”. Is e-mail social media? Instant messaging or mobile SMS texting? Not according to a majority of experts, trade groups, standards groups and marketers themselves. What IS? Social networks, micro-blogging/lifestreaming (Twitter), review-based Web sites or widgets. It’s actually quite hit-or-miss. Nobody agrees.
The fact is we’ve ALL been using the Web to shop, trade photos and music, compare prices, complain about products or brands… all of this stuff for over a decade. This is NOT new and therefore is not becoming mainstream anymore than I’m becoming younger as I type this. Thinking it is restricts marketers’ ability to act in ways that drive results — sales.
While there is much growth ahead yet, social media is by now woven into the lives of adults across age, sex, household income, marital and parental status, and region.
The Web has always been pervasive
Is the Web weaving its way into people’s lives — moreso? Of course. Look at mobile as a single example… and how we all use mobile devices today versus a few years ago. But is this a new trend? It’s a trend spurred by technology’s availability and ease-of-use… but otherwise it’s not news. Thinking it is restricts marketers’ ability to act in ways that drive results — sales.
And while much of that activity to date centers on connecting with friends (both old and new), chatting, and sharing photos, consumers do recognize that social media is helpful for a number of shopping related activities as well.
The Web has always been helpful to shoppers
Uh, duh! Again, it’s hard to imagine spending Shop.org members’ money to conclude this. When hasn’t the Web been helpful to shoppers? What portion of the Web hasn’t been helpful before “social media” arrived? When we accept the truth (all the Web is social media) we begin to realize how customers have ALWAYS been using tools like email to shop together (socially).
Today customers no longer need to email or instant message each other — or scour the Web for product-based comments on bulletin boards. Product review technology lets them do it immediately — right on the retailer’s page. Got it. But customers have ALWAYS been reviewing products — elsewhere using other tools. Socially. All the Web is social media and always has been.
The conclusion here was never in doubt… unless you believe “social media” to be reserved to new technologies like Twitter.
Asking the question “who uses social media?” is nearly meaningless. Answering it with “it appears it’s just about everyone one would pass walking down Main Street” is breathtakingly silly in my humble opinion — especially for our industry association. This fact is already realized and, more importantly, what are marketers to DO with this information?
Priority: Integrating ‘social media’
Retailers need to integrate digital media to drive sales, leads and increase customer value. Integrating what they perceive as separate “social media” with the rest of Web marketing is a real priority for retailers. I won’t argue that… but so long as they treat some Web media as “social” and other as “traditional” they will lose. They are losing.