Social Media is Dead

(This Blog first appeared on www.thedrum.co.uk where Gordon is a regular contributor, and again as the lead article in the February edition in the Drum Magazine)

It’s time to kill off the term “social media”.  It’s boring – it’s last years “big idea”.  Whilst we are at it it’s time to kill off the self appointed social media gurus, Twitter kings, Linked-in gods and Facebook queens, (although admittedly not all Facebook queens are selling social media consultancy!)  As far as I am concerned the word Guru denotes a level of expertise that you just can’t claim to have in an emerging field.

Every few years there is a small improvement in communications technology and someone with an eye for the main chance coins a term and tags the word “revolution” on the end and we have a bona-fide craze on our hands.  This time round the consultants, without any trading history or track record, have come out of the woodwork chanting “social media, social media, you gotta have social media”. Normally serious business people started uploading silly pictures on their Twitter pages and Tweeting inane updates like “oops put 2 much milk in my #morningtea LOL #fail, Please Retweet” and “@duncanbannantyne please ask your followers to follow me”.  Then to cap it all you get a linked-in invitation from someone you met at a conference in Birmingham ten years ago asking you to be one of his valued contacts.

Don’t get me wrong I love Twitter, Linked-in and my blog they are ALL indispensible to my marketing efforts.  What we need to do is clear away the social media BS that’s blinding people to the obvious truth that social media tools are just a new way to manage conversations to engage clients – its not rocket science – its for everybody.

We have seen this sort unhelpful hysteria before: remember the dot.com boom?  I spent the late 90s and early noughties evangelising about online community and facilitating discussion groups and online B2B networking, we called it “online conversation” or “online community” (if only I had known about the revolution thing).  As Shirley Bassey once said “it’s all just a little piece of history repeating”.

People are busy predicting a video revolution, a geo-location revolution, a mobile commuting revolution but if there is one thing you can say for certain about communication technology it is that next week there will be something new – its evolution and not revolution!

Why does the nomenclature matter?  Well revolution is a scary word and add to that lots of consultants claiming Guru status and people think that the tools are complex and difficult to use when they are not.  Most social media training seems to delve no deeper than how to set up a Facebook page or a Twitter account (the stuff that you can learn by reading the PDF guides available from thousands of web sites) and this is counter productive.  The gurus are trying to build a social media silo with access granted to those capable of over excitable hyperbole but its not rocket science – its just a new set of conversation tools.

Most of the people who read Drum blogs work in Marketing, Design, PR and Digital Marketing agencies etc and if the cocktail of social media tools are to become universally useful to businesses then you are the people who can make it happen.  If this latest communication evolution is indeed to generate revolutionary results for business (sorry hyperbolic slip) we have to destroy the silos by doing the hard work of strategically blending the benefits of the new social media engagement tools with each of our specialist marketing offerings.  Only when we have done this can sociability become the default behaviour setting and client engagement can take its rightful place in the marketing tool box alongside PR, advertising, sales, design and brand management et al.

I have just set up a new company and I struggled for a long time with the decision as to whether to start a separate social media consultancy or to keep my social media advice as part of my business development practice, you won’t be surprised that I decided on the latter.  On this blog I want to start a conversation about practical social media marketing and networking, not a load of “hyperbolic guru speak” but plenty of down and dirty, sleeves rolled up ways to use the emerging online conversation toolset to generate return on engagement for ourselves and our clients.

Maybe one day we will be able to say “Social Media BS is dead – long live Social Media Conversation.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Intelligise – Be Brilliant

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