I was sitting at my desk this weekend sifting through a bunch of material on social media and it came to me like a flash. Media isn't dying, disappearing or shrinking. It's fracturing.
Marketers are being besieged by new media concepts and offers that go against pretty much everything they are used to doing. And they are coming so fast that no one know what to do with them all. In the past week I reviewed presentations from the well known media houses (Techinsights, Reed, Hearst) media hybrids (Extension Media, Tech Focus Media, RTC Group), new media (Techbites, IBSystems) and a host of social media consultants offering to set up Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and blog sites.
I've seen a lot of interesting concepts, most of them badly presented. Out of all of it is only one sure thing.
There are more choices, good and bad, than ever before. And very few people are equipped to know the good from the bad.
In the 1980s and 1990s print and online media exploded along with marketing budgets. That was a good thing because you could spend a lot on a lot of things and it all seemed to work. In 2000 media started to contract along with budgets, which was a good thing because when you have a limited budget and nothing is really working like it used to, you don't need all those choices.
But this year the debate whether social media is going to be a serious contender for budget is over and the answer is, yes it is. It only leaves the question: how much will it cost and how will I know if it is working.
Communications is no longer a magic toy for marketers. They days are gone when you could throw out a press release, set up a few meetings and BAM! instant market penetration. And the days are also gone when you could sit a bunch of engineers down around a conference table, come up with a clever company name, a set of messages and a basic website that would drive business to you. Now marketers are being told, they actually have to listen to what customers are really saying; they have to say something interesting that's not directly tied to their messages; they have to be concerned what one single engineer with a popular blog actually thinks about their company and technology. And in the past 20 years, none of them have been trained, prepared or even understand how to do any of that.
But as I said, the media is fracturing into a galaxy of bits and there are people out there right now who do understand how to do it and have been training for two decades on how to do it. You know who they are. Go find them. There are no more guarantees only ideas. It's time to go exploring. You can ask for directions, but be prepared to pay for them.