I have just been flicking through a book called “Social-Media Marketing” and, in my humble opinion, the title strikes me as a contradiction. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if the title was what drove you to buy the book, you’re starting on the wrong foot. Don’t get me wrong, I support what Social Media Marketers set out to achieve, but sometimes a better title for what actually happens would be, “Social Media Advertising”. No one would buy a book titled “Cold Calling Your Close Friends & Tips to Make Them Buy!” or “Turning your Relationships into RelationSHOPS!”, it just doesn’t work like that. Well neither does the Social Web.
The tide is turning. More and more value is being put on contribution and relationship. A new, web-savvy and advertising-shy generation is emerging and they don’t need to take your word for anything anymore. They will, however, give their Permission to Influence to those who have proven themselves through contributing to relationship.
I can only shake my head when I see companies getting involved in the Social Web but treat it only as another channel for news and sales pitches. They are the ones that will, sure-enough, follow everyone on Twitter who follows them (that’s just good twitiquette), but they only ever broadcast company lines and marketing buzzwords. Try to ask them a question or get support for their product and it’s a never-ending black hole (hint, hint TomTom!).
If businesses really want to leverage Web 2.0 to their advantage, it comes down to one thing: making friends the old-fashioned way. That means actually involving yourself and making a positive contribution. It may not pay off in one day…but give it time and you will have a genuine network of support that will provide PR for you that money just can’t buy.
That’s just my 2 cents, anyway. Have any examples of businesses doing it right (or wrong)? Let me know!