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Social Media Pragmatists will win over the Social Media Purists

Posted by John Horniblow on Nov 24, 2009 in General, Social Media Marketing, User experience |

Written for and Reposted from htttp://blog.label.ch

Amongst the daily exchange, promotion, and web of connections woven into the fabric of the online movement of social media specialists, yesterday I read a post by Jason Falls, on his blog the Social Media Explorer. It extolled that the social media pragmatist would prevail over the social media purist.

It is one of the most sensible commentaries I have seen in this space cluttered by the usual virtuous publishings – listen first, stop shouting, transparency, need for spontaneity and speed of action , or the big question on how to measure Social Media ROI. Why does it standout as a poignant comment when all we hear is the importance of engaging in conversations and building relationships ( they still are of pivotal importance ) ? For me it’s the action associated to doing and making an impact on the bottom line that Jason is highlighting. You have take notice of the old direct to consumer or relationship adage – “Call to Action “ – what do you want your consumers to do now? ( it is an interactive environment after all ) Buy, learn more, fulfill a service or need, or be entertained?

The pragmatist will “just do it” , working the social components and developing the strong coverage of multiple points of contact, using a variety of media as channels, creating the search positions and getting the consumer to do something, driving quickly to an end goal: consumer action. These are intrinsic activities that bolster success. It is about getting your hands dirty in amongst the fray with your consumers. This is what makes all the difference, creates the learning for optimization, as well as the results.

Its simple action oriented things that work and the list could extend beyond the few points Jason raises.
- Make your blog drive search results to the keywords you want to win.
- Present calls to action that lead your Facebook fans to buy your product or engage further with the brand
- Entice Twitter followers to subscribe to your e-mail newsletter where you can present similar calls to action for purchase or other value offers.

As Jason puts it
“ And if you think doing that turns consumers off, ( or destroys the conversation) look at the millions of dollars Marriott racks up from Bill Marriott’s blog. Look at the sales Southwest Airlines attributes to it’s social media activity. Look at the $3 million Dell reported earning from its @delloutlet Twitter account. Look at Wiggly Wigglers, which has 90,000 worldwide customers, largely because when they talk about a product on their blog they put an “order here” link along with it.

“They don’t do this because they hug and kiss everyone. They do this because they make a compelling argument and persuade you to buy things, then they give you the opportunity to buy them. It doesn’t mean they aren’t social. Just that they’re smart.”

On the far side of the spectrum from these action-oriented successes that go beyond the warm and fuzzy purist conversation there are the laggards as well. Recently I was in a client meeting with a pharma company and was stunned into silence when I was presenting the pragmatic concept of listening and monitoring as a very low risk activity to leads to actions points through understanding consumer needs, complaints and attitudes. The people in the meeting rebutted me saying it was a high risk activity because “if they found something negative or something wrong they would have to do something about it” and then proceeded to mention the Maclaren pram / stroller product recall story as proof as to why they saw it as a high risk activity as Maclaren were having to respond to the wave of consumer criticism. I was shocked to say the least. What they were saying was the very existence of the participatory web was dangerous to them and their business because consumers had a voice and concept of “getting closer to your consumer “ due to the regulatory environment was a relationship they would rather not have. In further discussion they revealed that using social media as a broadcast environment was okay. Pragmatically it wasn’t even in the spectrum of social media practices. Sticking your head in the sand and hoping a storm will pass due to your inactivity isn’t going cut it in today’s world nor will thinking that social media is about broadcasting messages.

So while the social media purists who lack that sense of “what do I do with my consumer next before they drift away onto something else” won’t last, the ostrich approach of burying your head in the sand seems to drive in the direction of extinction. Jason is right. It will be the social media pragmatists that will succeed and hold the middle ground.

The blog is updated and maintained by John Horniblow AKA Bladedigital – On the cutting edge

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