Social Media: A View To A Lazy Business Culture?

We’ll stipulate that many organizations don’t understand how to integrate the social web into their marketing.

The reasons vary:

1. Some don’t see value (the infernal ROI question).
2. Some don’t want employees “wasting time” with it.
3. Some fear they have nothing to say.
4. They do not want to be openly vulnerable to criticism.
5. Some fear they are sharing insider secrets.
6. Some worry they may lose control. Of their people. Of the message…

I will be honest. In just a few short years, the paradigm through which I view organizations has shifted. Dramatically.

In the past, I viewed favorably organizations that had cool advertisements, whether on television or clever full-page ads in the magazines I cared about.

A cool, hip magazine ad was tangible, in that if the message and/or image moved me, I could cut it out and tape it to my dorm room or office wall. Not long ago, my office inhabited the underground space of my house – and the bare walls were literally covered with whiteboards and dozens of magazine ads taped to the walls…

But these days, my office is where ever my laptop sits: coffee shops, co-working spaces, client’s offices, dining room table or the sofa.

And with that change, so has my view of engaging organizations.

These days, in my mind, organizations have to be present on the social web. Blogging, engaging, using Facebook or Twitter. If they are not? I view them differently, almost don’t take them as serious.

I am not suggesting this is the correct viewpoint. It is my viewpoint. But I suspect the viewpoint of many.

To me, when an organization cites one of the reasons listed above as to why they are not engaging on the social web, my opinion of them turns dramatically. Naturally, upon further investigation, one discovers a business culture that does not permit/allow/encourage/understand the value and power of the social web.

Most assume I am suggesting a complete marketing overhaul and using ONLY social media instead of any existing programs. And to me, this suggests a lazy culture. Now, that may be harsh, and I think a big piece of that non-execution is simply not understanding.

But fear of empowering employees to tap into their broad networks for the long-term benefit of the company is lazy.
Fear of making the effort to learn more is lazy.
Fear of sharing your knowledge of your market space with a world who wants to learn, is lazy.
Fear of connecting with a public, especially your customers, in a meaningful, personal way is lazy.

Yeah, I get it. It stands to reason that Nike, Apple and Zappos have more opportunity to be cool and hip with social media than a company that manufactures water filtration units.

Maybe. I still think an organization can be viewed as an innovative, unorthodox and clever organization doing good things, having an impact on their community — even if their market space isn’t sexy.

I think a big part of how that is conveyed is by how they are perceived, and that story can easily be told/shared via the social web. And to not play in that sandbox is just lazy.

Look, at the end of the day, social media may not play a major part in your marketing, but in this day and age, you need to be present there. And to close that off with a “talk to the hand” attitude, is symbolic of an organization looking for the easy way.

What do you think?

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[cartoon by @gapingvoid]

  • Anonymous

    Great stuff Todd. In some ways I think the humble water filtration unit manufacturer may have an advantage over Nike and Apple (Zappos is cut from a bit of a different cloth) in realizing an incremental benefit through social media. Effective social media is about making room for the humanity behind the story, behind the marketing, to shine through. Historically cool and hip consumer brands have a lot vested in maintaining a pristine facade and can have a lot of internal resistance to the idea of presenting an unscrubbed channel of communication.

  • Anonymous

    Great stuff Todd. In some ways I think the humble water filtration unit manufacturer may have an advantage over Nike and Apple (Zappos is cut from a bit of a different cloth) in realizing an incremental benefit through social media. Effective social media is about making room for the humanity behind the story, behind the marketing, to shine through. Historically cool and hip consumer brands have a lot vested in maintaining a pristine facade and can have a lot of internal resistance to the idea of presenting an unscrubbed channel of communication.

  • Todd Schnick

    all good points david.

    and i agree, and wish i was more forceful, that the humble manufacturer has more advantage…

    and yeah, cool and hip companies aren’t always what they seem. but i sometimes think those stories are good stuff too… i love the human side of these organizations…

    thanks for stopping by!

  • http://twitter.com/XposeYourBrand XposeYourBrand

    I agree Todd, those companies that are waiting and waiting will miss the boat and with it the opportunity to truly connect with their peers and their customers. There are so many amazing ways Social Media can be used to connect with your audience on a greater level. Thinking about introducing a new product? Send out a twitter poll, post it on your Facebook page to get feedback, the list is endless!! Remember big does not always mean better.

  • Todd Schnick

    yes. big does not always mean better. this is so true. and why i think many fear social media, because i think they feel they must go big.

    it isn’t about some fancy schmancy campaign. it is about connecting with customers and prospects….one person at a time…