Why Social Media Marketing is Still a Red-headed Stepchild

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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