“I feel as if the train left the station, and I’m standing on the platform watching it fade into the distance,” exclaimed a friend of mine whom I regard as one of the finest marketing people I know. He was referring to his disconnection to the major shift occurring in how we use social media to communicate with our customers and prospects. My friend is not alone; I recently spent time with a group of senior marketers discussing Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff’s book Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. I was surprised to find that only about one in five of my peers had a blog (corporate or personal), and most hadn’t read the book. This is not a disparagement but rather a warning sign that many of our best marketing people aren’t adapting.
Why? Although there are many reasons, I’ll answer them in marketing terms: positioning. The new world order has been positioned in such a way that everything in the classic marketer’s toolbox is irrelevant, thereby making them irrelevant. Naturally, if not subconsciously, this generates fear and a negative reaction to the cause. Too Freudian? Perhaps, but I’ve witnessed this far too frequently to dismiss it as an anomaly.
Call it the social media revolution, but it’s really a marketing communications evolution. Don’t view it as a new toolbox; consider it as new tools in the toolbox. And by the way, a tool is much more effective when it’s being used and not locked up. Now go out and grab that Twitter wrench and work with (not fire) your PR team to get your message out.