Tom Murphy – Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy blogging about PR and other things since 2002…

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Is social media’s honeymoon over?

December 1st, 2010 · 14 Comments · Public Relations, Social Media

Geoff Livingston had a great post today addressing a very interesting issue:

Somewhere along the way, social media folks thought they should completely reinvent business. That they knew better, and that could they completely disregard history’s many lessons about how to build great products that work. But more goes into product marketing then just listening to memes of what’s cool.

There’s a lot of investments being made in social media and I think we’re at a point where social media is maturing.

Social media’s honeymoon is coming to an end -  but that’s actually a good thing – albeit with some challenges.

As social media moves from the periphery to the mainstream, it will increasingly be regarded as a core part of the communications and marketing function rather than some sort of interesting skunk works project. And that will demand a whole new level of rigor.

This changes the discussion a little.

A few years back – though notably less today – there was a lot of online chatter about how PR practitioners were in danger of extinction because they weren’t adopting and evolving with social media. These discussions treated social media like it was was some incredibly complex, intellectual pursuit only accessible by the world’s rocket scientists.

Yeah.

Humbug.

We’ve come full circle.

As businesses adopt social media as an integrated element of the marketing mix they will treat it as such.  Much of the freedom will dissipate and  practitioners will increasingly be expected to operate as part of the marketing organization – to understand the marketing process, in short to understand the business.

From a PR perspective it’s not enough to have an in-depth knowledge of the tools, channels and influencers.  Great social media programs will require experienced practitioners who can couple traditional skills and expertise with social media nous.

I’ve always advocated this approach.  The basics of good marketing and communications haven’t changed. Those basics remain vital.

Over the past few weeks I have read a lot of claptrap written by people who have demonstrated that while they may have a lot of knowledge and experience with social media they are missing a rudimentary knowledge of great communications, strategy, issues management etc.

PR has always faced the challenge that everyone thinks they can do it, and social media is no different. 

I think a lot of people are winging it and it’s pretty obvious.

Successful marketing and communications will marry traditional skills and experience, with an in-depth knowledge of how social media can support, extend and improve programs, outreach and engagement.

As social media’s honeymoon ends, there’s a lot of opportunity but the transition to mainstream marketing brings with it a wide range of new demands and expectations.

Exciting times ahead.

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14 Comments so far ↓

  • Lizzie Smithson

    I was JUST thinking the same thing…It seems like people have joined in on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to be on the cutting edge of everything..and now you’re a fool not to be using at least one or two of the mediums, all of the available mediums if you’re in certain fields…and the requirement has made it feel like a bit more of a drudgery or something you have to be far more careful with, if that makes sense. I think there are definitely still opportunities to stand out, but they are becoming fewer and farther between…when a company answers a customer complaint via Twitter or offers a special deal to Facebook users, it doesn’t get noticed anymore. I hope the next thing that’s introduced or created within the platforms makes it that much better…but I’m personally feeling a bit of oversaturation on the platforms myself! Great post.

  • Steven Groves

    Well said Amigo. As an elder statesman in social media, I’ve watched precisely the transition you mention taking place. Businesses are now looking for that voice of experience that melds social, traditional and business into a whole. It’s a great time to be social!

  • Lisa Sullivan

    I couldn’t agree more! I have been on the hunt for a position that combines online AND offline marketing, that takes into consideration ALL of the elements of a marketing strategy and not just what social media can do for a client, product, company, nonprofit. Like you, I have always believed social media should be an integral part of an overall marketing & communications plan – not the ONLY plan.

    Thank you for re-affirming what many of us social media mavens believe.

  • tpemurphy

    Blog: Is social media’s honeymoon over? http://tpemurphy.com/blog/?p=876

  • stephencrowley

    RT @tpemurphy: Blog: Is social media’s honeymoon over? http://tpemurphy.com/blog/?p=876

  • Dan Perez

    Tom,
    The problem is that a lot of these “social media consultants” never worked a day in their lives in a corporate environment and almost none of them ever worked in sales; just check their bios. They only understand corporate culture from the outside and that is where idiotic statements like “Marketing id dead!” come from.

    Terrific observation.

    PS – I have 10+ years experience as a Sales manager & Director of Sales before launching my film/video production company…in case you were wondering :)

  • Pat

    Totally agree. I just started a job as a Social Media Specialist, and I set myself apart from other candidates because I have a broad MarCom background across many channels, and I know how social media needs to be a PART of those channels. Sadly, many organizations haven’t learned this yet, and too many “Social Media Experts” are being hired to do it wrong. I think we’re seeing the tide sarting to turn. Great post.

  • Judy Gombita

    While I agree with and appreciate the bulk of your argument and sentiments (and laughed out loud in a couple of places), the one big problem I have with your theory (and post) is the way you use “marketing” and “PR” interchangeably.

    You know why? Because as active as I may be in social media, I have ZERO interest in being marketed “to” on the various platforms. I don’t follow (back) most company accounts for just that reason. Unless they are related to the arts or NFPs/NGOs.

    I was never married to the idea of social media = effective marketing, so the honeymoon isn’t over for me. Relationship building, on the other hand…..

  • Tom Murphy

    Thanks to everyone for their comments, much appreciated.

    I’m glad I’m not alone!

    Tom

  • Tom Murphy

    Hi Judy,

    Thanks for the comment. I understand what you’re saying, but we live in a strange and diverse world, and many people like companies ‘marketing’ to them. I read somewhere (and I can’t for the life of me find it) that one of the main reasons people follow companies on Facebook is for deals and special offers. That’s marketing to me.

    Also I think as we look at how companies manage, integrate and use social media it will cut across a wide range of functions, not just PR and marketing, but customer support, product development (perhaps) etc…

    The point remains the same. Where companies see social media adding real value they will (correctly in my opinion) integrate with traditional functions – and that raises the need for individuals to understand how and where they fit in.

    Make sense?
    Tom

  • Judy Gombita

    It does make sense, Tom. But I think what companies need to realize is that social media is simply another communication channel (albeit with some new twists), rather than some silver-bullet marketing platform.

    BTW, did you see Olivier Blanchard’s excellent post a couple of weeks ago, Stating the obvious? Amongst other things, he warns not to let social media be used by or for marketing….

    http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com/2010/11/22/stating-the-obvious/

  • Padraig McKeon

    Tom,

    Spot on… have to say that I’ve been quite ‘impressed’ (in the ironic Irish meaning of the word) with how little of the basics of ‘business-audience-message-mechanism’ type decision making and thinking that some social media folk I’ve met have.

    Big case of the ‘who moved my cheese’ on the way.

    Padraig

  • Katelyn Mashburn

    Right on the money! I felt disappointed after I left university last year to notice many companies neglect the basic PR strategy principles as they transitioned from traditional PR tactics to social media. The strategy still needs to act as the driving force behind any PR tactic – whether that be offline or online. Excited to see how social media matures further…

    Best,

    Katelyn

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