Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Salivating over Social Media

Posted on | September 2, 2009 | 2 Comments

All the cools kids are telling us that social media’s the place to be. While it’s a very important channel, it’s not the end game, and focusing too much on social media misses the point and endangers careers.

A very interesting recent study (the 2009 Digital Readiness Report) shows why social media salivating is not social media salvation. The report–sponsored by iPressroom, Korn/Ferry, TrendStream and the Public Relations Society of America indicates that social media is not only taking hold in companies, it’s the dominant theme of the day. (Shout out to Scott Lewis for bird-dogging this fine survey).

But unlike most of the hyperventilating surveys of the soft, silky promise of social media, this one has some grounded commentary. In fact, it drags social media strategy into the real world. The money quote?

The findings suggest that while organizational communicators are intent on using social media to get the word out, not as much planning or strategic insight has been invested into how to convert inbound traffic into social, informational or ecommerce transactions.

As they say in the Westerns, Now don’t that beat all?

Happy Pooch from

Happy Pooch from

Social networking or microblogging strategies and skill sets are valued in companies  far more than SEO or content management, despite the fact that other studies have shown that the company Web site is generally a more credible information source source than social media and that search is the path to the company Web site. Those in public relations roles within companies lead the social media charge, while those in marketing seem relegating to the old-school tasks of content management and SEO.

This is the major paradox of the moment. Companies convert prospects on their Web site, not on Facebook. Content management, content creation and SEO are the keys to this victory. They’re the blocking and tackling and three yards and a cloud of dust that gets the ball into the end zone.

Yes, social media is incredibly important as a way to engage and inspire audiences, but it’s just a small part of the conversion process. And unless you’re in a very large company that can take a long view of social media engagement, it’s not going to resonate too well in your review. Unless you’re in a consumer market, finding, engaging and dragging your target audience back to your island is a challenging endeavor. People so often forget the simplest maxims are the truest. Willie Sutton, said he robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.”

Find your audience (wherever) and engage with them. That’s inherently a social strategy, even if it means your audience loves email! Remember that everyone salivating on blogs about the joys and transformative nature of social media in business is generally trying to make a buck with that advice; few have ever been on the front lines of product marketing.

The key concluding line from the study:

The good news is organizations are serious about social media engagement and new media communications.
The bad news is the specific channels they’re most interested in deploying are not necessarily the ones used or trusted most by the public, indicating a potential gap in strategy.


I will buy dinner for the person who comes forth here to detail (honestly) an example of how social media engagement consistently drove business for his or her B:B company. (Real food; great wine).

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2 Responses to “Salivating over Social Media”

  1. Kerri Hicks
    September 3rd, 2009 @ 6:07 am

    No fair, I’m not B:B, and I want you to fly back East to have dinner with me.

    But social media engagement has definitely had an impact on us — the local media follows us on social media (and we do it better than anyone else locally, so we get the experts in the paper). Donors from far away find out about out new donation options (and use them) because they are really engaged with us for a contest on Facebook every Friday.

    Of course a web site is still MUCH more important than social media. But a web site is also a completely different thing. First, a web site is pull. Social media is push. Your web site needs to be current and accurate, but it doesn’t need to be changing daily. Social media needs to be responsive, quick, immediately relevant. Web is one way communication. Social media, when done correctly, is a two-way conversation — and it allows us to engage with our constituents in a way we’ve never been able to before.

  2. Brian
    September 3rd, 2009 @ 8:02 am

    Well, you know I’d fly east anyway just to celebrate all those birthdays of yours I’ve missed in the past 20 years! ; )
    Can you share some examples with us of how you guys are engaging w/ media and others socially?

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