While I was not stunned to learn that Scott Monty is leaving Ford, I was more taken aback by Shel Israel's view, which he's been talking about on Facebook, that Monty's departure is part of a larger trend, a trend of social media innovators and rock stars leaving large companies. I caught up with Shel at the current Cisco Live event, and his view mirrored Monty's as expressed in an AdWeek interview yesterday: this means that marketing is taking over social.
What you need to read in the interview is what Monty said about where social is now: "I think it's at a critical juncture right now. With all the commentary that's been going on about Facebook and the loss of organic reach, obviously, how the paid component to social evolves is critical. Outside of Ford and looking at the industry overall, it saddens me how social has been co-opted by marketing to become just another mass advertising/marketing channel. I think the promise of social is about relationship development, and I have always said that. "
I've not spoken directly to Monty yet, but I thought I would catch up with his fellow rock-star, Frank Eliason, on this topic and ask him to confirm or deny the trend. Here's what Eliason had to say:
"Social is at different stages at different companies. For some, it's a new sexy thing. But people are trying to apply traditional approaches to new media, but it doesn't work that way... Look at it from a user experience perspective. Most people who are not in marketing really don't understand social."
Eliason points out that the algorithmic changes at Facebook brings companies back to traditional media buys on what used to called social media. Eliason says that "there is a reason why the algorithm changed and it had to do with bad content. Having said that, I believe that by December Facebook for business will be out of vogue."
To Monty and Eliason, social is more of a mindset. It's one of social's major aspects is that it's about relationships and the goal of wanting to get people to talk about one's brand in a natural way.
"For brands who succeed, it's more about a mindset, less about a media buy," says Eliason.
Is it a trend? Eliason says, "By the end of this year, it will be surprising to see people with social media in their job titles. There's a much bigger thing going on. It's no longer about mass marketing, it's going to be about micro-marketing."
Have marketers, as Monty claims, won? "Marketers may have won but they won't be seeing the returns they're expecting. We'll see a rising up of content marketing. But that's a bubble, too. What brands should be doing is concentrating on good content that will be a feeder for advertising. And the better companies will see this longer-term vision and be working toward that. Social people shouldn't be worried that they won't have a job, but they should be looking to see what the future is."