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Déjà vu All Over Again

Social Media—How is it possible for confusion and inertia to be so rampant about a topic that is so top of mind, endlessly talked about, highly publicized and globally enabled?

I never cease to be amazed by the circular nature of conversation about social media. People asking a myriad of questions such as “What does it mean to be able to listen?” Will it make my business better, or my customers more connected to me? Will it set me apart from my competitors? Will it help me navigate a fast changing competitive marketplace more effectively?

That’s kind of like asking is Google a search engine, or is it a portal? The answer is that social media is a channel, and it is a data source, and it is a cost effective conduit to new customers, new products and innovation. It is not one thing and it is absolutely not well understood.

When I read analyst reports about barriers to social media adoption one of the biggest barriers to entry is as simple as companies not knowing where to start. Not knowing how to integrate this new data source/channel/ customer insight gold mine into their consideration set of information and follow-on action that allows them to prosper in a highly competitive market.

I wonder how this inertia can continue when we see annual reports such as the 2010 Razorfish Annual Outlook Report officially change their name from Digital Outlook Report to just plain Outlook presuming that by now; certainly the world knows that digital is a given, and social is a component of every digital dialog.

Or we look to the upcoming Forrester Forum and see the driving topic is customer centricity and the absolute requirement for every successful company to make customer insight a core competence.

Or we look at the demand for and our involvement in building Command Centers, and supporting global deployments of social strategies to allow companies to integrate their marketing, servicing and research.

We have partner discussions about deep integration and the need for API’s to ensure continuous data and work flow.

And then I stand back and ask myself, how can these two absolute dichotomies coexist? Those who don’t know how to start (or even if they should) and those who have figured it out and are on their way to opening a competitive gap so wide it is unlikely that it will be easily closed.

I can’t even understand it even when I think about Geoffrey Moore’s book, Crossing the Chasm and the patterns of laggards versus early adopters.

I have worked in marketing my entire career and have watched marketing strategies and tools become ever more intuitive and sophisticated. And I know that what every marketing organization really wants is to successfully connect to a new customer and build a stronger bond to the customers they already have. So the initial goal has never changed. There have certainly been a more informed set of metrics developed to measure cost of customer acquisition, retention, and loyalty. Channel metrics, web stats and sophisticated analytics are available to know whether one investment is better than another. But aren’t they all measuring success against the very same thing? How well did we connect with our market (current and future customers) and how effectively did we spend our resources to make those connections?

It brings me back to my initial question of … how can social media be so confusing? How is it that some companies feel not entering the conversation is actually a viable strategy?

I would like to make a personal challenge to anyone who wants to understand how social media can help them make better business decisions that lead to better results. Respond to me, in this forum, or any other of your choice. Feel free to give me a call 425.957.6039 and I will share all the insight, experience and practical understanding I have.

It is my mission to close this understanding gap, and to make it easier— once and for all— to meet a new customer and build a meaningful, profitable bond.

Tags : social media

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