What we refer to as “social media” really has very little to do with media. Media –from cameras to demographics–is a set of filters. Filters obscure the truth by focus as well as by omission.
Social media strips away the filters upon which content shops–news organizations, marketing consultancies, ad agencies and PR firms–have relied over the past century, and brings us Truth. Sure, sometimes social media yields too much information and sometimes it’s the cold, hard truth, but its products and processes are raw and authentic, nonetheless.
So, it’s interesting then, that traditional marketers, advertisers and PR folks, are jockeying to stake claim as social media stewards. From my perspective social media and marketing are not so much the same as they are different. In fact, I’d posit that social media marketing is truly the opposite of traditional marketing.
When I speak to clients and audiences about the importance of social media, I first talk about the cultural shift that social media tools and Web 2.0 technologies are catalyzing. Our culture is shifting from one of facades–advertising, messaging, “spin”–to one of Truth. The first rule of the blogosphere is “HATs off”: honest, authenticity and transparency. LonelyGirl15 and the Walmarting Across America were early examples of misuse of social media and why Truth is paramount.
But a good portion of traditional marketers still don’t view social media this way. Rather, they view it as another set of rich distribution channels through which to send carefully crafted messages. (It’s not a surprise that social media has gotten all tangled up with marketing. This likely stems from “social media” being a misnomer.) Successful social media strategies must start not with marketing, but with introspection.
The cultural shift towards Truth and collaboration must be felt, understood and embraced by an organization before it can truly sucessfully leverage social media tools and Web 2.0 technologies. The organization that understands social media first as cultural shift will see why social media is more akin to business strategy, organizational change and strategic partnerships than to marketing. PR and advertising. That, is the Truth.
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