I generally hate buzzwords. I can stand them for a short period of time, but when they become mainstream they turn into my pet peeve. Social Media has been a word that we started hearing about a few years ago and now everyone and their mother have turned into social media experts or have even launched social media consultancies. I can’t tell you how many people I meet at conferences or through this blog who have newly launched social media consultancies, but when talking to them in-depth about their organization, they are nothing more than a glorified PR consultant. There’s a newly launched group of “social media experts” who band together to provide social media bootcamps for a few grand a day which tell marketing executives to put a few tags on their blog posts, create microchunked video content, and other web marketing tactics.
I was joking on Twitter earlier today and asked how many social media experts were needed to screw in a light bulb and my friend @jonburg answered:
Wikipedia has a fairly comprehensive definition of social media and it compares it to industrial media.
Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and “building” of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM).
I argue on all panels and speaking engagements I partake in is that there should be NO dividing line between social media and industrial media. When you put a line in the middle, you fragment marketing and it does not work as exponentially positive as it can. It’s sort of like separating out a digital agency from a traditional agency… everything should be together to create bigger integrated idea.
When looking deeper into the term “social media” on job trends, we see that the exact term has been used in job postings quite a bit since September ’06. The job chart below was provided by Indeed.
I wanted to add “media planning”, “media strategy” and “viral” into the chart to see what job trends I could find. What I am fascinated to see is that “social media” surpassed “viral” in job listings (and trends). Another pet peeve is when clients as me to produce a viral video or create content that will become viral. We (as strategists) can put all of the necessary technology in place to make media become portable and in such a fashion for people to easily consume it, but we can’t guarantee that anything will become viral as that’s what the consumer does.
Another interesting tidbit is that media strategy (and planning) should contain “social media.” Recruiters and HR folks are using the latest buzzwords of the moment in their job listings so that’s creating the increase in the chart lines, but everything here should be part of the same job description.
There is burgeoning industry around SMO, or social media optimization. There are currently 321,000 exact matches in Google for “Social Media Optimization” after searching for it tonight. Essentially, SMO is similar to SEO, but methods of SMO include adding RSS feeds, social news buttons, blogging, and incorporating third-party community functionalities like images and videos. Social media optimization is related to search engine marketing, but differs in several ways, primarily the focus on driving traffic from sources other than search engines, though improved search ranking is also a benefit of successful SMO. (wikipedia)
The point I’m trying to drive home in this blog post is to include any of this “social media” speak into traditional media strategies. All media is social and has been social for years. As long as people have been talking (forever), then any media showcased to them has become social. Kill the buzzword and focus at the main challenge at hand: create winning multidimensional media strategies.