Thursday, October 1, 2009

The needless hand-wringing over social media

Has anyone stopped to think that the insistence of some people to make social media a “cornerstone” of a business development or client relationship-building plan like serving Kool-Aid with Steak au poivre at a four-star restaurant? Does anyone really think that a design firm is going to go out of business because its Marketing Director doesn’t have a Facebook page or its PMs are not “tweeting” project status reports to clients?

With a few exceptions, social media has proven to be a very sophisticated toy with some business potential. Even serious business-minded people are using it almost exclusively for social communication – loading Youtube videos of cute pet tricks and finding out who is going to the high school reunion next month. In fact, people using social media for straight-up business communications look awkward and out-of place – like a 40 year-old at a high school dance.

I keep getting frantic messages from people who “ought to know” that we should be doing something about social media…what are we doing about social media? We’re behind in our development of social media! SOMEBODY HURRY UP AND EXPLOIT SOCIAL MEDIA BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!

Relax. In social media ­– as with most technology – it probably doesn’t pay to be an early mover. Unless you can really figure out how to leverage it, you are probably better off standing off to the side and seeing what others are doing. It’s not like a value-add design service where if a competitor gets a leg up it could take you months to catch up. In this communication medium, you can close the gap in a matter of days or a couple of weeks.

So what should you do? Use social media to get to know people better in a non-threatening, casual way. Make notes about what you learn about clients and prospects and integrate this intelligence into your normal business development strategy. Also, listen and ask questions about how your clients and prospects use social media. They – not opportunist “social media” consultants – will be a far better barometer of what you should be doing.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to “friend” me on Facebook – I am out there. You’ll get to hear all about the NFL and my son’s rock band…sorry, no cute pet trick videos.

Until next time,

1 comment:

Bill Wallace said...

Good post Bruce.

I am sure if we stand back and look at the total environment social media is one of a number of strategies/tools/technologies. So it is a viable option, but is is one viable option ... among others.

Many early adopters evangelise SM as THE solution when really there are a myriad of client developing strategies when done really well will aid the business.


p.s. all that said with a Gen Y daughter who is about to be put up as an expert on a University panel about social media!

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