There is a lively debate going on over a recent study commissioned by the Society for New Communications Research and Joseph Jaffe, author of Join the Conversation, which stated that "social media and conversational marketing will outpace that of traditional marketing by 2012."
Sounds good to me, but not everyone's buying it, at least not Jim Nail, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer for Cymfony. He goes so far as to suggest the hype about social media is nothing more than, well, just that...hype.
As often happens on the Internet, especially when blogging is involved, one thing leads to another and it did in this case.
I read on some blog somewhere that Ann Handley of Marketing Profs got wind of this and had one of the MP bloggers, Paul Dunay, lead an audiocasted discussion between Nail and Nielsen/Buzzmetrics CMO, Pete Blackshaw, which resulted in yet further discussion between Nail, SNCR's Jen McClure and Jaffe.
From what I've been able to discern, with the exception of Blackshaw, what discussion that has taken place has largely been between Nail, McClure and Jaffe. Take Nail's post for example. All the comments were between the trio. I don't know, but you'd think this topic would incite a greater degree of oratory than that.
Whether social media will catch on to the degree that the study suggests is open to question. Keep in mind that its forerunner, blogging, has yet to gain ubiquity as a marketing medium, in spite of the fact that it's been around for nearly a decade and has been proclaimed as mainstream. To cite an example, the last figures I read showed that less than 10% of Fortune 500 companies used blogs in any meaningful way.
Nonetheless, I tend to share the same exuberance as Ignite Social Media CEO Jim Tobin who is "thrilled" with the fact that, according to eMarketer, nearly 8% of online marketing spending was dedicated to social media.
Jim goes on to say, "The fact that 7.8% of online marketing budgets were dedicated to social media campaigns in July, August and September of 2007 was a pleasant surprise to me. I got $5 bucks that says that number is 250% higher in Q3 of 2008."
I must agree with Jim. Considering the fact that social media is still in its infancy, 7.8% sounds pretty good to me. And while the divide between consumer adoption of conversational media and marketers adoption of it is wide, that will narrow given time. It has to. Consumers won't leave us with any other option than to do what Jaffe suggests and Join the Conversation.
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