Now I don’t profess to being a social media guru/expert/evangelist/geek (delete as appropriate) but I found Mark Ritson’s views in his blog this week to be overly derisory, and his venom filled rant does an injustice to the work that many marketers (some specialist, others generalist) are undertaking in the social media space. According to Ritson it is all a waste of time unless you are one of the 5% that does it well – so surely you strive to be in that 5%?
Mark Choueke, editor of Marketing Week has responded much more coherently than I am likely to, but there are just a few points I’d like to address.
Engagement has become a recurring theme since I started this blog up and it’s not because of any particular reason other than it’s obvious increasing importance. If you have two brands with similar offerings and one is engaging more than the other, then who would you but from? Ritson may argue that brand loyalty runs deeper than a few tweets, a couple of +1’s and spattering of thumbs up, but people’s attitudes and behaviours are changing/have changed and brands need to change as well. Engagement and social media may not be able to provide a quantitative ROI like banner advertising can for example but how was billboard advertising or magazine advertising or train station advertising ‘measured’ in years gone by? Social Media is in its infancy compared to traditional marketing (not a fan of that phrase, but will use it to differentiate) but rest assured, return on investment WILL become demonstrable and the groundwork being down now is important to that process.
I agree with Ritson that social media does not change the ‘rules’ (whatever they are) as companies still need to be aware of what customers want and how they want it, and its up to brands to deliver. It would be wrong to dismiss it totally out of hand when the people who are, to quote Ritson, ‘over-selling’ these platforms are the actual users. They have created the demand, nobody else.
Of course social media is not the be all and end all of marketing, but it should be an aspect of the mix if it is right for you – and more importantly your customers (kudos to @hannahbk who gave me this line). Ritson’s blog (which of course in some places is written for effect) is dismissive of the approach outright and sticks two fingers up at many people working as social media specialists for some of the biggest companies in the world.