I wrote about the need to unpack “social” a few months ago. Greg Satell at HBR argues the case well:
These days, it’s pretty easy to interact with consumers directly.
Yet that’s exactly the problem. All too often, when marketers talk about their “social strategy,” they really mean a digital marketing strategy implemented on social platforms, rather than using social dynamics to benefit their business.
That’s why many social initiatives fail miserably. Consider Pepsi’s Refresh project, which sought to replace $20 million in Super Bowl spending with a social platform that funded good works. While its social media KPI’s soared, its business suffered. Pepsi actually lost market share and fell to number three in the cola wars for the first time in modern history.
The problem is thinking that “social,” whatever it means, has some mandate to replace marketing or communications in general. That being said, the internet undoubtedly offers companies the chance to reach a wider audience. For example, by mastering digital marketing strategies such as SEO, a company is more likely to rise through search engine rankings and stand out from the crowd.
It is not just Google that businesses need to impress now either. Other popular search engines such as Bing can also have an influence over the types of websites potential customers decide to click through. To learn more about search engine optimization for Bing, take a look at this Guide to Bing SEO.
Social at its best is about social mechanics. Behavior. Ideas that people want to share. Not in the Ted way, but in the things people talk to each other about way.
And mass media is usually much better at spreading ideas than Twitter alone. It’s a simple matter of scale.
That’s not to say that social networks aren’t useful in all of this, it’s just to say that “social” isn’t a channel, it’s a behavior that lives anywhere a good idea can.
And after all is said and done, engagement is not a replacement for ideas that move business.