Why you don't (or do) like social media, part 2

As I said in part one a few weeks agoSocial media attacks the tradition mass communication paradigm with a natural flow of communication, which is why marketers and journalists often chafe at embracing the practice.  What I've seen happening through this paradigm shift (geez, I never thought I'd hear that phrase again) is the rise of the value of talented, trained and experienced communicators within corporations and organizations that are making an effort to figure this stuff out.  That probably doesn't include your company, though.

I was describing what is happening in social media to a friend who has no connection with high tech (they do exist, you know).  He thought a bit and then said, "Sounds like their going at it like they're killin' chickens."  It was a great analogy.  When you slaughter chickens (and yes, I have done this) it involves a lot of running about, noise, flyiing feathers and blood.  Total chaos.  And when you sit down to eat them, you wonder if it was worth the effort.

That well describes how most companies are going after social media.  Chaos. It looks like it might be important, but at the end of the day you have to wonder, was it worth the effort.The reason for the buyer's remorse is that most companies are still trying to apply to old paradigm's interpretation of media to the new paradigm's infrastructure.  And it doesn't work.

Most corporate communications involves a bunch of people sitting in a room with a white board and trying to figure out "messages" that will convince customers to buy their stuff.  David Scott Meerman calls it an MST (making stuff up) meeting.  That is translated into news releases, brochures, white papers, press pitches, trade show signage, etc.  Then when it doesn't work they call the customer stupid or fire the PR agency.

Social media steps into this mess and says, "Hey, why don't we ask the customer what he thinks."  This concept is completely foreign to most marketing people, and anathema to the sales people.  Remember, the customer is stupid.

But companies that adopt the attitude of listening to, rather than talking at the customer... they're the ones that go at social media the right way. The bottom line is that those customers understand that social media is more than another communication medium, it is a way of communicating.  Until you understand that, your social media effort will resemble an abattoir more than a virtual marketplace.

Happy Thanksgiving, BTW.