Whenever there is some cataclysmic change, some seismic activity or upheaval, eventually and over time, things settle and adaptations and accommodations are made so that we can live with it. Change can be positive or negative (as is often the case when the man-made is destroyed by natural forces).
I came across some information this week that made me think about water settling to its natural level. And how Social Media will also find its own level with respect to its role and presence in our world.
Social Media is a whole new way of communicating. It is similar to the advent of radio, or TV, but the big difference is how accessible it is and how quickly it has been adopted (I acknowledge I am not the first to make this observation). Social Media is a major disruption, but disruption leads to creativity, opportunity and evolution.
Silos in Corporations Despite Strategy Behind Social Media
Brian Solis reported that silos are developing in Corporations despite the strategy behind Social media. http://www.briansolis.com/2011/11/you-cant-go-back-to-create-a-new-beginning-but-you-can-begin-to-change-the-ending/ I suggest that the silos have always been there. This should be no surprise to anyone as the way organizations work creates competition between the departments or work groups and makes equal sharing across all functions very, very difficult. Social Media is not going to change that, especially because it is perceived as being valuable.
Everyone in every company I have ever worked with, from purchasing to the warehouse , from Executive Management to maintenance believed that they were marketers. All of them had strong opinions on the packaging, advertising and promotion of the product. And none of these opinions were wrong. The only flaw was that they were limited in terms of perspective. Each contributor viewed the product or Brand from his or her particular proprietary viewpoint.
It is the responsibility of Marketing to consider all of these points of view and see how they dovetail with the most important viewpoint of all. That of the ultimate customer or consumer.
The situation is similar with Social Media. Each function in the organization will see the opportunity and objective with a slightly different twist, consistent with their particular role and needs, no matter how well the overall strategy is conveyed and established.
Yes, there should be an equitable participation throughout the organization, and I suggest it is best achieved through cross-functional teams, but there needs to be a strong and “objective” owner who is ultimately responsible for ensuring the overall strategy is driving the process and that objectives are being met.
Sorry, I vote for Marketing to be responsible. I don’t vote for silos.
Twitter Primarily Used for Promotion
The second piece of information I read is also not a surprise, but is a disappointment. Counter to the fundamental purpose of Social Media, which is sharing, the new Pew Study reports Twitter is primarily used for promotion, not engagement. http://mashable.com/2011/11/14/twitter-engagement-news-rare
Sigh! Does this go back to the fundamental “id” and it’s all about me? Does this correspond the greed of Corporations viewing Social Media as another vehicle to communicate out – forget the in? Is it an ingrained habit too hard to break? Or is it just a learning curve? My theory is the companies that don’t get it will fail at it and abandon Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for the next big thing, leaving the channel to those who do it right.
Social Media Is a Tool, But It’s Not THE Magic Bullet
Bottom line, Social Media is still a tool. A fabulous, far-reaching, comprehensive and inclusionist communication tool, but a tool, no more, no less. It is a vehicle both for the execution and the accomplishment of strategies and its success for the individual or organization will only be as strong, or as good, as the strategy behind it.