Missed it by that much

You know that social media has made it when you see so many PR firms and practitioners jumping on the bandwagon with dubious POVs, offerings and initiatives that miss the mark or misunderstand the situation. In the past I’ve written about Ogilvy’s 360 Degree Digital Influence idea and everyone has seen what happens when agencies decided that transparency doesn’t really matter – and now we have Larry Weber publishing “Marketing to the Social Web: How Digital Customer Communities Build Your Business.”

You can almost hear the glove snap as the doctor tells you to bend over . . .

Communicating in the social media world isn’t something that is done “to” an audience; it’s a conversation among groups and individuals that actually have something of value to say.

The other thing that drives me crazy is the Kool-aid sipping devotion people seem to have for the latest and greatest product/site/service. Sure, they may be cool but they’ll all be supplanted by something even later and greater. This can leave the seekers of the new looking like a dog chasing its tail – they may get close and they may even if they catch it; but even if they do, what then?

Maybe it’s a generational thing; but what’s important is to apply new thinking – not simply new platforms or practices – to the process of communications. I’ve been fortunate to have been exposed to some of this new thinking though my involvement and participation in activities at MIT. Things like the New Media Literacies Project point the way to developing a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of communications and of the changing and blurring relationship between content creation and consumption.

As communications professionals, we need to help our clients and colleagues – both internal and external – understand that social media isn’t so much about the technology; but rather about the potential created by the technology. There isn’t some formula or series of switches to be thrown in order to make social media work, and I worry that too many people are out there selling glib solutions to some very complex problems.

[tags]PR, Larry Weber, Ogilvy, Social Media, Communication, Marketing[/tags]

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6 thoughts on “Missed it by that much

  1. Not sure what you have actually said about us (Ogilvy PR’s 360 Digital Infleunce team). I tried to find a post that you reference but could not. Still, you seem to be associating my team with something less than transparent. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have been engaging with social media for the past three years. We are members of WOMMA, participants in the Social Media Club (last meeting in DC was here), I spoke at the New Communications Forum.

    We did not ‘jump on the bandwagon’. I am actually a Web 1.0 survivor and have been committed to community and open dialogue for many years. And I think you will find that our POV is pretty solid and respectful of , well, all of the people using the Internet to get things done, make connections and, yes, even build relationships with the people behind the bands and causes they care about.

    I would love to share more with you about what we do and where our heart is in this. I am not familiar with Larry’s book. Have you read it?

  2. gpc says:

    Hi John –

    I didn’t mean to imply that Ogilvy has not been transparent, I was referring to another agency that also starts with a vowel . . .

    My issue has to do with the idea of agencies as influencers and what that means. I may have posted my thoughts to Melvin Yuan’s blog. I’ll try to find them and post a link if and when I do.

    I attended your session in Vegas and thought it was really good. As an industry though, I still feel that we’re too often focused on the mechanisms rather than the meaning of communications (this is just a personal bias).

    As for Larry’s book, I’ve not read it – I was struck by the title yesterday and that’s what prompted me to write I guess. Reading the cover flap though overwhelmed me with buzz words to the point that I almost wanted to poke my eyes out.

    I’d love to chat some time – I’m sure our paths will cross.

  3. Can you be an influential if you are not an expert in a community? I suppose that’s one of the questions any marketing or PR manager should ask their agency, if it claims to have the scope on how to influence social media. The key to effective blogging or social media is understanding that its not about selling but credibility and authenticity.

  4. Are PR agencies going to be any good at positively engaging with social media on behalf of their clients. Strumpette and co. would say no. I think we have to change a lot to be good at it and I am optimistic that wiull happen. I am not a hardened PR pro, though, and perhaps I am naive.

    I also agree that our job is to get beyond the technology and what it makes possible. We also need to be clear about the limits of what an agency should do on behalf of a client in this space.

    It’s funny, I am teaching a grad course now on digital comms and had to choose “textbooks”. Finding the ones that didn’t seem like they were just jumping on the social media gravy train was tough.

  5. I’ve posted a couple of times on the bandwagon nature of some people’s response to social media. It’s been interesting to me as I’ve been engaging with clients on putting together social media programs to see how different people see have such different views. Some see it simply as another channel for pushing their own messages; that’s a bit boring to me but I think for some it is an ok place to start. Others have been open to some really interesting and more thoughtful uses to social media. I’m doing some work with a museum up here in Boston to create a program that connects their collections with the online communities interested in the content in a really novel way. I’m pretty excited about it.

    All of us need to try to help clients develop a more complete (while still realistic) view of their potential for becoming involved with online communities. Doing that well and effectively is going to be the big challenge we as an industry face over the coming few years. There’s still going to be a role for traditional PR and media relations but that isn’t going to be where the value is found.

  6. Can you be influential without being an expert? Of course! There are people who are passionate for causes or issues who don’t have deep knowledge. Influence can sometimes come from knowing a topic cold; but it can also come from being able to see connections between ideas or linking the right people together.

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