In the wide world of business there is still an enormous resistance to embracing newer communications tools such as blogs, microblogs and social networks as part of fully-integrated marketing strategies. Here is how that can, and should, change.

I’ve been discouraged in recent months to find that in the wider business world there is still an enormous resistance to embracing newer communications tools such as blogs, microblogs and social networks as part of a fully-integrated marketing strategy. I watch as public relations and marketing departments all but ignore the social media marketing vendors they bring in. I see print ads still going into newspapers failing to mention that the company or organization are now on Facebook or Twitter. I hear PSAs and radio ads failing to mention these new consumer touch points in addition to a web site.

If social media tools can enhance our various forms of more traditional marketing — including traditional web sites and email marketing — why do the social media presences we build get ignored and are rarely integrated into other forms of marketing communications?

There is only so much a social media marketing consultant who has been hired as an outside vendor can do to remind and encourage clients to mention and leverage social media tools. To have a better impact on marketing best practices, we need to first identify why there is so much resistance to a set of tools and a fresh, more interactive and engaging way of communicating with consumers.

Here are some thoughts as to why social media marketing is hard for some to understand and embrace:

  • The learning curve. Social media tools require a degree of learning new technology.
  • The adaption curve. Practitioners entrenched in the “old ways” of marketing are resistant to having to adapt what they know how to do well. Additionally, some people actually get complacent.
  • The added work. Many marketers have their formula down to a well-oiled machine. Social media marketing requires paying attention and responding in ways that may seem too burdensome when one is used to pushing out press releases and making phone calls to the media, as opposed to truly interacting with consumers.
  • The measurement factor. Even though social media marketing is far more measurable than public relations, for example, more traditional practitioners will use “you can’t measure it” as an excuse not to use it.

In order to bring social media marketing tools and tactics into acceptance, we all need to be careful about several things:

  1. Avoid the hype. Don’t over-promise things that social media tools cannot deliver. You’ll fail, and you’ll make the rest of us look bad in the process.
  2. Educate others. Those of us who “get” social media marketing need to remain patient and willing to teach those who don’t.
  3. Support marketing. Don’t come in like gangbusters, saying that social media tools will replace traditional ones, but instead offer to help support other people’s work and help them look good.
  4. Be persistent. Without being a pest, find ways to constantly remind clients and other marketers to remember to mention the social media touch points in all of their communications. They wouldn’t fail to put a web site URL on a press release. Four additional words — “Find us on Facebook” — can make the difference between a single web site visit and a loyal Facebook fan who wants to interact.

What other things are you doing to bring social media marketing tools and tactics into the marketing and communications mix with your company, organization or clients?

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  1. It’s a profound cultural change which is required for anyone serious about building a community (and not tinkering with the medium). Companies with more open culture will have a lot less problems and therefore smaller companies. Our best clients make it a company wide ‘eye opener’ project. It takes a village…they say:)

  2. Maybe social media touchpoints aren’t being mentioned in radio and TV spots because the time is costly and the social media links are on the main website.

    It’s sort of like those business cards that have one side entirely covered in links to different social media profiles. At some point it isn’t helpful to have all that stuff right up at the initial point of contact.

    But I still think your points and advice are solid for dealing with social media resistance.

    1. I’d argue that more often than not the social media links are NOT on the home page of many, many sites although they should be. Social media integration into traditional web sites is sorely lacking.

    2. And I also would argue that web site home pages are no longer the ideal first point of contact for most.

      There is far more opportunity for abandonment without clicking on anything or leaving behind an email address on a web site home page (if that option even appears on a home page) than quickly becoming a Fan with a single click or Following on Twitter with a single click, etc.

      Through social media, there is more of a chance of a connection happening and then more chances of continued contact and conversations.

  3. Whenever something new is introduced it takes awhile for people to get used to it. I think eventually most people will see the value in social media and will be more open to using it as a marketing tool.

  4. Kirk Abraham @ EASTeam Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    The biggest disparity between past, lets call it more traditional thinking for a lack of better terms, and the new Social Media paradigm, is that this is a process and not a one time activity.

    Old school says: make cold calls to people you don’t know
    New school says: just did a blog post read by people I don’t know

    Think I’ve just initiated my next blog post… :)

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  6. There aren’t that many examples of using social media successfully, especially for normal/average/non-tech companies – seems the same old examples (MotrinMoms, DellHell, etc) are used. Other than monitoring the web, the rest doesn’t look worthwhile without substantial examples.

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  9. One thing I notice is that companies that do try to integrate social media into traditional ads/marketing seem to struggle with how to do it so that it makes sense to all audiences and works within the context: e.g. radio ad, print ad, etc. For instance, I do see more print catalogs or mailers with Facebook logos–but often they just say “Become a fan on Facebook!” with no url or anything–then you search for that brand name in Facebook and come up with a bunch of entries. Or radio stations who say “follow us on Twitter”–but don’t give their Twitter handle. A few days ago I heard a commercial for “the Smart Cookies”–I think it’s an American Express campaign or something–three women who blog and tweet and do radio spots about finance. So at the end of the ad the guy says “Follow the smart cookies on Twitter.” That’s it. Is that one account? Three separate ones?

    Only the most motivated/social media savvy would take it upon themselves to hear spots like these, go to that company’s website, and search for those Twitter handles. And as you mention, lots of companies that are on Facebook, Twitter or whatever else fail to highlight those things on their websites–so even if you go look for it you might not find it.

    And the people to whom Twitter and Facebook are still the equivalent of 4-letter words, or at least just mysterious ones–how does a company effectively promote a Facebook or Twitter account in the context of a 20 second radio spot AND explain how to access it? I know how hard it is to explain these concepts to people in person in an unlimited amount of time–I can’t imagine having to sum it up in 3 seconds or one sentence on a mailer.

    1. The uses of these technologies extend beyond these simple instance. For example, we recently developed an iPhone application for an engagement ring designer with national locations. The products could be shared via a range of mechanisms including email, Twitter and Facebook. We have the ability to measure such links.

      Not much information is available as of yet, but I look forward to seeing feedback in the future. The most powerful mechanisms are between friends rather than between the brand and the customer. These are of course also the most difficult to measure.

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