“I don’t believe in social media”. “Social media is flippant”. “My clients don’t use social media”. “Social media isn’t relevant to MY industry”. These are a handful of the most common responses to my daily, evangelical advances upon the unbelieving half of the UK’s professional community.
For those of you who may have read any popular sales training books over the last ten years, you may recognise the above as being classic examples of Objections! Objections! Objections!, as coined by Gavin Ingham in his 2004 sales classic.
He was absolutely, positively – spot on.
Credible, successful businesses with teams of insightful and intelligent marketing professionals seemingly know something that the other half don’t. In looking at global metadata and social trends, these guys are betting the other way, and simply do NOT want to hear about ‘BookFace’ and how it could help them.
While there are certainly exceptions, this unbelieving half tends to be populated with companies at the more technical end of the professional services industries, and at the risk of seeming ageist – it’s usually gentlemen or women rather more senior in years who are at the core of this thinking.
Like some kind of Richard Dawkins of the digital marketing space, I imagine you may now be expecting me to say that these OBJECTIONS are simply illusions, that these individuals are out of touch with their environments. That they’re outdated. That they’re frankly missing the point – and missing out on huge ROI – as a direct result of not consulting us on how best to arrange their 140 characters, four to five times a week, 52 weeks a year.
But I won’t.
As someone genuinely interested in the welfare of our clients and how different businesses can succeed in general, I can’t hand on heart disagree with these ‘objections’ when speaking with certain types of companies, however much I wish I could. I wish I had examples of hydrocarbon data acquisition companies that swear by their social calendar. I wish I could show spikes in oil sales that correlate to particularly good days on British Petroleum’s Vine account, but obviously I can’t. (Not only because BP is, sadly, not a client of ours.)
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be the first to jump on an opportunity to flog a social media package. An Oculus social media package for that matter, which, for the record, is amongst the best you could buy. A well-constructed and managed social programme DOES in most instances, for most companies, ADD GREAT, UNTOLD VALUE that will help develop a brand’s personality, allow for real-time communication with your marketplace and ultimately increase that all-important bottom line.
But for everyone?
I’m yet to be convinced. No matter what ‘thought leaders’ from around the world are cramming into their latest ‘marketing methods for millennials’ books, the ‘fact’ (?) remains that not all markets are using the social web, nor would it be culturally appropriate for them to do so. I can honestly appreciate the notion that investing time and money into developing a social programme may not only be a waste of time and misallocation of resources, but it could actually have a detrimental effect on a company’s reputation within a marketplace.
In a world where what you do with your time matters, whether you’re a start-up, SME or blue chip – there’s a high chance that you could use your marketing budget more profitably.
So, in the spirit of science, healthy debate and good fun, I wish to issue a challenge to all those whom this blog may reach.
Picture a scientific consultancy of some sort, an SME, staffed with 10 or so genuine thought leaders within their particular field. Rather than scanning Facebook and Twitter, their prospects subscribe to Nature or Science or some other similarly heralded journal, full of company ‘x’s peer-reviewed publications. The application of their science is in the expert witness boxes of courtrooms of the world, or in the development of technologies that are pushing the boundaries of our technological capabilities as a race – very often in the face of major problems that are either here now or ominously looming on the horizon.
Credibility is EVERYTHING.
Not only do many of their staff not own social media accounts for personal use, they are actively suspicious of the phenomenon, thinking it invasive, damaging to society and potentially dangerous, as do many of their peers, patrons and clients.
My question has three parts.
- Is the regular use of social media ultimately going to support, or erode, their hard-won credibility and business as a whole. (However you answer, please state specifically how and why).
- If you answer ‘support’, what could this hypothetical social calendar consist of?
- If possible, please demonstrate examples of this in real life. Data and science are what count here my friends.
There you have it. I’ve thrown down the gauntlet.
Marketing gurus of the world, I beseech you to respond and wish you all the luck in the world. Please, please, please, prove me wrong – and don’t forget to share.