Your Company Can Ignore Social Media but You Can’t

11/24/2008

I am not a Social Media Marketer.  I am a Product Marketer.  I’ve worked on products where we’ve done a lot of social media related things and others where we have done almost nothing.  In my mind, that is perfectly OK.  As a marketer however, I think it is essential that I’m participating in social media, even for no other reason than just to understand what the heck is going on.

There are lots of growing, successful businesses that ignore social media for the most part.  I can name a dozen startups that don’t blog, don’t Twitter, don’t have a facebook page, etc. and are doing just fine.  In almost every example, these folks are selling fairly big-ticket software to large businesses where the key decision makers aren’t big social media consumers.  Yes, these decision makers are likely influenced by folks that DO consume a lot of social media but for these startups, influencing this second tier is a much lower priority than building better product demos, running a better advisory council or doing a better job of managing their relationships with industry analysts.  Could they see benefits from participating more in social media?  Absolutely!  But marketing is a game of making the most with scarce resources and sometimes it isn’t at the top of the list.

My point here (you were wondering if there was ever going to be one, I know) is that there is a difference between making a decision as a company or related to a particular product, to prioritize social media participation lower on the list and not putting social media on the list at all because you’ve never really participated in it and therefore don’t have a clue about it.

I’m tired of marketers asking me why Twitter is important.  They should already know about Dell and Comcast and Zappos.  They should have already figured out that they key industry analysts are out there talking about them or their competitors on Twitter.  These stories have been told over and over.  I can’t believe it when I come across a marketing exec with 2 connections on LinkedIn.  I am shocked when I’m questioned by a marketing person about something I’ve written here or something someone on my team has written elsewhere on a blog.  Any decent marketer out there is keeping on top of this stuff and at a minimum playing around with it to make up their own minds whether or not it’s important.  In my opinion, the best ones understand that the world has changed and are diving into it as deeply as they can.

I don’t understand the marketers that don’t think social media is interesting enough to even dip a toe in the water.  Maybe they are too busy buying print ads and booking big trade shows and scheduling meetings with executives trapped on boats.  Who knows?  All I know is that things are changing quickly and it’s my job to keep up.  I hope I have the good sense to retire or change careers the minute I catch myself blocking anyone else from doing that too.