This morning I came across a piece by David Warschawski on PR News Online questioning the hype over social media as a marketing tool. He made a lot of good points, but there are a couple holes in his argument.
First, the good points. He is right in joining the growing group of PR professionals continuing to sound the alarm about mindless social media participation. Implementation without strategy is a path to failure. I also liked his illustration of social media being just a tool and not the tool belt. More businesses and organizations, especially small ones using in-house people, need to hear this. He says,
First, let's address if it is right for you and your organization. You'll be surprised to hear a marketing expert say this, but for many organizations social media shouldn't be one of your top marketing initiatives.
I agree totally. I have a client that I have advised to stay away from social media for the time being. They are chomping at the bit to get on Facebook, but they don't have the time, resources or people to do it right. Besides, their website is antiquated and user-unfriendly. First things first.
Next, the holes. He quotes some statistics from a 2009 survey done by the First Amendment Center about where people get their primary news and proceeds to indicate that only a tiny percentage (1%) of the surveyed people get their news from Twitter and that 49% of people do not trust Twitter as a news source. This is true, I'm sure. I don't get my news from Twitter either. As a matter of fact, I don't know anybody that uses Twitter as a primary news source. I don't think Twitter has ever been touted as a primary news source. That is not its strength. Faulty connection of data to conclusion. The article isn't about news, it's about using social media for marketing.
More statistics followed about how CMOs don't allocate very much budget to social media, etc. I get the point, but I think it's incomplete. How about some accompanying stats about what CMOs are now allocating to traditional media as well, to get a good perspective on how total marketing budgets have changed in the last five years. My guess is that traditional media spending, especially in the area of print, has changed--probably in relation to the amount of budget allocated to social media. But, I agree with the main point, social media is not the pie, it's just a piece.
Social media is evolving. It blew on the scene with huge fanfare and now those of us that use it are refining, honing, tweaking, finding appropriate metrics, strategizing, adjusting...that's what happens when something is new. To dismiss it as a fad, I think, is a huge mistake. There are too many examples of people out there doing it well with huge successes. Yes, it's only a part of a media strategy--I think we all get that. But the reason there is failure out there is not because of the medium, it's because it isn't being used effectively.
Warchawski winds up the post with what I think is his main point, and it's a good one.
Yes, social media is an important new weapon in our marketing arsenal, but it must be kept in proper perspective and used accordingly. So do me a favor-retweet this article and post it wherever you like, but don't do it so you can say you checked off your social media to-do box for the day.
What say you?