Editor's Note: Mikal Belicove's recent post Five Lies About Social Media Marketing generated a lively debate among our readers. The following is a guest post written in rebuttal.
Earlier this week, Mikal Belicove published a well-written but misguided article entitled "Five Lies About Social Media Marketing." While several of his suggestions may be useful for marketers in certain limited situations, most of these social media "lies" are, in fact, truths.
- Size matters. It just does. Much like the size of a company's email list has obvious importance to a brand, so does the distribution a brand has on Facebook. Of course, quality of userbase is of utmost importance. Having a large, engaged group of self-identified "fans" or "followers" on Facebook represents a highly valuable distribution channel. Take, for example, American Express. They have over 2 million Facebook fans, or 2 million people to whom they can deliver customer service, notify about new offers and engage with on a recurring basis.
Ultimately, social media is about sharing, and sharing to a vacuum is useless. The more people signing up to view your message, the more likely you'll be able to effectively cultivate and monetize these relationships.
- The medium is the message. The medium is completely tied to the message in social media -- the two are inextricably linked. This isn't an issue of substituting technology in place of relevant brand messaging. Rather, this amazing "new media" (we'll get to that point later) has given brands and marketers an opportunity to position their products and messaging in a unique way. The best brands are doing a phenomenal job of seamlessly integrating the two, and the best and largest platform, Facebook, is working tirelessly to empower brands in every way possible. (Check out facebook.com/marketing, facebook-studio.com, and Facebook communities like Clinique, Starbucks, Audi and American Express.)
- Social media gurus really do exist. They certainly do. I'd qualify many of the talented social-media marketers and Facebook employees I've interacted with as social media gurus. And if you need names, consider Gary Vaynerchuck from Wine Library TV and Nick O'Neill from AllFacebook.com. If you're suggesting that too many people are trying to own the title of social media guru, then I can agree with that. However, there are incredibly bright people innovating within social media. Consider these folks; they're gurus and worth engaging with.
- Social media is 'new' media. Yes, textbook-marketing principles (the 4 P's, Porter's 5 Forces, etc.) are still the backbone of brand marketing, and still hold significant weight today -- as they should. However, the past few years have proven that certain traditional forms of marketing and advertising are yielding way to this wild and crazy "new media" (see the magazine, newspaper and radio industries for more info.) The best social-media marketers are expertly displaying the basics of marketing and their corporate goals within this "new media" -- be it with likes, hashtags or check-ins.
- Social media can be effectively outsourced to a PR firm. If you want to qualify that statement by saying that hiring a PR firm doesn't necessarily equal social-media success, then I would agree. However, there are many PR firms and social-media agencies that consistently make sure they understand a client's values and goals before publishing to the social-media ecosystem on their behalf. We really like what Rockfish Interactive is doing Bicycle Playing Cards, for instance. Rockfish, a digital-marketing agency that's based in Rogers, Ark., recently helped the 143 year-old playing-card maker relaunch its online social presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These firms are doing amazing things to harness the power of social media for their clients.