The blogs written by Jason Falls and Chris Brogan are ones that I quite enjoy, and are well worth checking out. (Jason is the Director of Social Media for a Lousiville-based brand building firm called Doe-Anderson and Chris works for Cross Tech Media in Boston, advising companies on how to use social media to build relationships and deliver value.) It’s probably not a coincidence, but they each recently posted about similar topics: How marketers and PR people can best advocate for the incorporation of social media tools into a client’s overall communications strategy.
The gist of what they were both saying was the time has come for all of us in social media consulting to stop talking to each other, and better communicate to the “outside world” why this stuff matters. I made a similar observation back in October 2007 after returning from the New Media Expo, a trade show which focuses more heavily on podcasting. I think the three of us agree that there needs to be much less emphasis on cool tools and the next shiny thing and more emphasis on what the net benefits are to the client.This lesson sometimes gets lost.
I believe it is equally important to communicate that a social media strategy does not REPLACE what companies are already doing (unless, of course, they aren’t doing anything at all) but augments and adds nuance to what they’re doing.
I think all of us consultants have had the same experience while attempting to initiate the uninitiated. Some clients don’t understand, some are skeptical and some are even downright hostile to the notion for various reasons. But there are no silver bullets and it is becoming increasingly important to help clients realize that one size never did, and never will, fit all.
Here’s a suggestion: instead of jumping in and listing all the things a well-executed social media strategy can do, try grabbing their attention with a couple of stats, anecdotes or success stories. I tend to use ones that are more video related, such as a recent study that showed that YouTube accounts for 10% of all North American internet traffic. (Not video search, ALL INTERNET TRAFFIC.) Or another study that suggested that 93% of all Americans believe that companies should have a social media presence. What I am getting at is, you need to help people understand why they should care, show them that social media is more mainstream than they realize and that it’s not just 12-year old girls on MySpace and Facebook.
The tools don’t matter. Results matter. Engagement matters. And I bet their company’s growth and prosperity matters to them.