Social Media Needs a New Name

First off, I’m tired of defending social media on the Internet. Social is social, and media is media. The two do not mix well. The result of trying to force them together results in poor messages and campaigns like what Motrin ran over the weekend. The interest is justified and the need is well versed as evidenced by a recent article in AdAge. We all want to get into social networks and using social media because of the current popularity. After all, what better place to mass market than where the masses are.

Photo from Flickr user ClintJCL

Photo from Flickr user ClintJCL

The point is clear and the intentions are good. We all want to tap into the market of interested customers eager to recommend our products and services. Clearly, how we accomplish this is anything but clear.

The problem lies largely in trying to bridge the two pieces – social and media. The roots of media lie in distribution while those of social lie in communication. When we try and align the two, we end up with communication centered campaigns with an intent to spread to mass audiences. Or, we end up with Motrin starting a conversation that shouldn’t be started.

As marketers, we may look at this and think we know better. But I’m doubtful as to whether that’s true. Look at the success Dove has had with its social campaigns. Is the Motrin approach any different? Yes and no, but that’s beside the point.

The point is that new media requires new marketing. Imagine if you were marketing products for avid camping supplies. Would you want the guy above speaking as an expert?

The key takeaway here is that new media does not require experts or authoritative voices to succeed. New media stresses connections. Rather than a conversation on why Motrin may be important for mothers, Motrin acted as expert and created a need and dialog where none was required. A similar situation arose last week on MomLogic. One post went up about how a mother could relate to Casey Anthony. Over 200 comments later, it was clearly realized as a poor decision for a post.

Social spaces and media live in different realms. They should be kept that way. That’s not to say that social spaces can be used to enhance and point to media. However, marketing lives in the media realm. The closest kin for social spaces can be seen as PR. There is a new hybrid emerging that combines the marketing with PR. Perhaps most appropriately, the most successful cases have revolved around customer service.

When thinking about what marketing efforts companies can do in social media, make sure they are social first and foremost. Do your homework on what objectives you require from the efforts and make sure the social spaces are right. Your customers own the social spaces. You are an uninvited guest. Thus, make sure your intrusion is welcomed.

Update:

This just came to my attention. Said better than I’m able to. “Who said this is media?

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