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In Marketing: The more things change, the more they stay the same

Author: Mark West

Today we are all passionate about social media. Everyone I talk to, every article I read, is all centered around how everything has changed in the marketing world with social media. Forget TV, radio and print, social media is now the be all, end all. Ok, I understand this and I can certainly see the benefits of marketing through social media, but while social media may be a new channel, it has not made life any easier or less expensive. In fact, I submit only helped to complicate the matter.

 The same basic principal of marketing applies today as it has for generations: you need to cut through the clutter for your message to be heard. Adding social media to this has only exasperated the clutter, not helped. Now, the average person, instead of receiving X impulses a day, is suddenly exposed to an exponentially greater number. Let’s face it…if we as consumers were starting to ignore some impulses due to oversaturation, then today, we are ignoring even more.

While I can hear the arguments that Social Media is easy and it is much cheaper than traditional advertising, I’m not so sure…..let’s start with the fact that Social Media is easy. Here, there is a point to the fact that creating a post on a social media site or writing a blog requires little or no training, nor does it require any special expertise. This is evidenced by people around the world who are posting their thoughts and comments for all to see, every day of the week. But unless you have a following, these random ramblings remain just that, random ramblings. The trick to social media is attracting a following, and not just any following, but of those predisposed to your cause (or in the case of business, your product/brand). In the old days we called this building brand loyalty, and in there lies the difficulty….I submit, has anything changed?

Taking on the next point, that social media is much cheaper. Well, here again, if you look at the fact that creating a company page on a social media site or starting your own blog is relatively inexpensive if not completely free, but that’s just the beginning. That pretty little blog or profile is virtually worthless without some content. And today, with vast amount of profiles and blogs, it is no longer enough to have a random rambling once a week or so. Instead the experts suggest a minimum, yes, minimum of 3 or more a week. And this is just to get into the club. To really be a super contributor to the World Wide Web, you’ll need to post something at least once a day. Now, I don’t know about you and your daily schedule, but I would guess that among everything else we need to do, writing a post, or something more substantial like a blog does not easily fit in on a daily basis. So, what to do? Hire someone to do it for you! Not just anyone, but someone that can write very good content to cut through the clutter….and there in comes the expense. Then don’t forget the additional marketing you need to attract attention to your now exceptional content, and suddenly you realize that this idea of free (or next to free) and easy marketing on social media is suddenly looking a lot like traditional marketing. Now tack on the fact that, while social media is a great tool, it is not the ONLY marketing you need. So you continue with traditional advertising, as well as investing…yes, investing (we just discussed how it is far from free) in the “new” media, social media, as well as the traditional. Again, I submit, has anything changed?

So in the end, your life as a business executive is not easier, but in fact, harder…not only must you concern yourself with all the traditional forms of advertising and public relations, including customer service centers, but now, you have additional channels that you, not only should not ignore, are literally forced to use through peer pressure. If it wasn’t enough to have product issues and rogue executives in the past, now social media also adds an additional public relations and customer support dimension. So, personally what do I think about social marketing? Am I really opposed to social marketing? Well if I was, then I wouldn’t be working for INNOVO – what I would call social marketing 2.0. INNOVO uses the social concept to bring businesses together to reduce their procurement costs by pooling their buying power, and better business development by pooling the resources of the Network members. A concept that I’m surprised someone else has not already developed, but certainly the next big thing for the Internet. With that said, social marketing is here and definitely good, but ultimately, nothing has changed, only become more complex….so the more things change, the more they basically stay the same.

Image courtesy of tratong at

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