Why Social Media Needs to Die

OK, this may be a bit harsh, but all the talk about social media versus traditional marketing is driving me crazy. Sure, gurus, experts, and agencies alike want to tout they are the latest and greatest when it comes to the new marketing tools on the block and so it makes sense for them to brand themselves as “social media agencies” or “social media experts”. But what about the “traditional marketing” as they call it? It’s all the same thing, but with different adjectives.

Trends and the Obvious

Isn’t it funny how some numbers on a screen, a nice chart and statistically sounding papers can make you believe in anything at all? I found it amusing when reading about two new surveys about social media adoption were released that some of the highlights were:

  • Companies are spending more on social media and plan on increasing social media budget
  • Companies are switching more money from traditional marketing to digital marketing
  • Small and large companies alike are turning to social media
  • Social media is becoming a viable took in the marketing mix

Let’s say someone just came out with this new thing called the Television. And not only that, after a few years it is now in color and families are gathering around it for their favorite shows. Wow, you may say, let’s jump into that and get our own commercial there! Social media, like any other tool (or vehicle of communication to be exact) is the same thing. The new shinny object is obviously attracting people to it and the more you try it out, the better you’ll be at mastering the right message.

Another obvious trend being reported talks about how companies are integrating social media into their marketing efforts (a couple of reports discussed here and some discussion here too). Really?! Wow, these marketers must be really smart to be integrating social media… but how about the ones that say they haven’t integrated social media into their marketing mix? Are they losers? Maybe they are still trying out the waters, creating a twitter account to listen to the market before jumping right in. This “integration” talk is another useless discussion because it really doesn’t help you do anything better today. So what if most marketers are not integrating social media into their strategy? How can this data help you? Don’t tell me that you need that to “sell social media” internally into your organization because that’s a lame excuse. Agencies might like the data because it tells them how easy or how hard it will be to sell their new “social media” strategy service.

The Academic Debate No One Cares

I think I had enough of the whole social media versus marketing discussion when I listened to the Six Pixels of Separation Podcast talking about digital marketing agencies vs. traditional marketing agencies vs. social media agencies.

I wholeheartedly agree when Mitch Joel saysLet’s not make it bigger than it is.”

The discussion of where social media fits, and whether is part of marketing or not is purely academic and has no practical purpose.

For those not in the marketing field, let me clarify this with the simple diagram below:

Marketing components

All of those items are under ‘marketing’. Yes, even ‘sales’ is part of marketing, that’s how we’re taught in school and how it is in the real world. In fact, books such as “Marketing Management” and “Principles of Marketing” by Philip Kotler widely used at marketing courses talk about the good and old “Four P Components” of the Marketing Mix and have as examples the following:

  • Product: product variety, quality, design, features, brand name, packaging, etc.
  • Price: list price, discounts, etc.
  • Promotion: sales promotion, advertising, sales force, public relations, etc.
  • Place: channels, coverage, assortments, locations, etc.

No, they don’t mention “webinars” or “email marketing” or “facebook” but you get the idea. Those are all tools of your marketing bag.

And Now For Something Completely Different

While many are using the term social media in everything they do, I propose something different:  just kill it from your vocabulary. You can argue about “push versus pull”, about how “inbound marketing” is the new thing and all that great stuff but keep in mind that it is all part of your marketing strategy and execution.

Talk about “integration”, about “traditional vs. new”, or “digital vs. virtual” doesn’t get you anywhere.

I know I’m not alone in trying to end the social media vs. marketing dichotomy and know that a lot of you marketers out there are getting tired of this whole thing, so let’s just try something completely different and stop talking about social media as if it were completely separate from what we do on a daily basis. It’s a tool, so let’s refer to it as one.


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