Social Media and Marketing: Evolution Not Revolution… Part I

Intelligent Performance Architecture

Social Media and Marketing: Evolution Not Revolution… Part I

Markets and the businesses that serve them are being required to respond to the perpetual state of advance in digital information technologies, particularly social media and mobile. The question that everyone working in any part of digital communications is now facing (explicitly or not) is whether the change to business is more revolutionary or evolutionary.

As the currently pervasive online and offline discussions of topics such as “social media ROI” reveal, organizations are currently struggling to understand and manage these transformations through the established language (and mathematics) of business management.

This effort by seasoned business managers to understand the ways in which social media can impact their business is currently complicated by the fact that much expert conversation of social media to date has fixated on 1) the revolutionary nature of the technology itself, 2) the broad impact of this technology on culture, and/or 3) the potential for these cultural shifts to create radical changes in customers’ expectations of companies’ responsiveness and transparency.

Social and mobile technologies have undeniably created a revolution in our recent lifetime, making everything – information, knowledge, music, videos, games, shopping and personal connections – now accessible at all times, from all places.

Like any revolution in its first stages, things are still chaotic and messy; all of this access and interconnectivity has manifested through a splintered array of networks and apps. I firmly believe that as the revolution matures, so will our control of this interconnected “social” data and tools, and correspondingly, their utility and centrality in our lives (a belief I act upon through technical and ideological support for the development of “personal data lockers” and an interconnected “semantic web”).

Many businesses, witnessing these changes, have become convinced that they must adapt or die, and in the long term, this is certainly true – just as it has been for every cultural and technological change that has come before. Unfortunately, many businesses have been convinced that the external revolution requires an internal revolution, leading them to an initial (under-planned and under-funded/under-staffed) rush into social media activity.

History tells us that under-planned and under-funded revolutions are typically bound to fail; you may be able to make it without one or the other, but not without both. I believe it was the underwhelming results of many of these first forays into the social media wilds have been a chief driver of the current climate of questions/skepticism regarding the expected return on social media investment.

Questioning the value of social media to your business is fine, but not bothering to look for an answer will be deadly.

For businesses, the appropriate response to the advances in digital information technologies is to view them in terms of evolution, not revolution. I will explore this in more detail in part two of this post.

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  1. […] Part II Posted by Scot Wheeler on September 12, 2011 Leave a comment (0) Go to commentsThe first part of this blog on social media and marketing arrived at the observation that questioning the value of social media to your business is fine, but […]

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