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by Frank Reed
Social media is growing. We all get that. The rate of adoption is often a skewed measure depending on who has been asked. The social media “professional” has the nearly automated response of “Everyone does it! It’s easy! It’s cheap! It’s great!” Someone more firmly rooted in reality will say that many companies are having great success using social media for lead generation and other business needs, but that not everyone is on board yet. In fact, the really courageous ones will say that social media is not for everyone. Social media heresy? Maybe, but I don’t think so.
At any rate, there is a very interesting segment of businesses that deserves extra special attention with regard to social media. These are companies that are in industries or verticals where social media adoption has been slow for many reasons that run the gamut from “not enough time” to “What’s social media?” and all stops in between.
Some of these categories are listed below with a rating we’ll call the Social Media Adoption Opportunity (on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the equivalent of a snowball’s chance in hell and 10 being “Let’s start right now!”). This rating will reflect just how open they might be to getting involved in social media for their business.
Traditional Marketers. Companies that have been around long enough to have the “Flywheel Effect” in place (read the business classic by Jim Collins “From Good to Great” for more flywheel theory). Success is a result of many years of doing the right thing, doing it well and possibly doing it without any real promotion other than traditional word of mouth. These marketers have hit their critical mass and move forward on the momentum that has been created. They are, however, smart enough to know what is a true opportunity, fighting through any roadblocks to ensure continued success. Social media adoption opportunity: 8
Fearful Marketers. This group has heard all the commotion about social media as a tool to do business into the future but has fear around the unknown, fear about job security, fear of failure, and fear in general that have all kept them from pushing the envelope in their organization. This group offers a “glass half empty” mindset to anything they are unfamiliar with, so social media will be fraught with issues rather than opportunities. Social media adoption opportunity: 3
Stuck Marketers. Many people confuse this group with the traditional marketers, but that’s not the case. This group has the attitude that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” They are comfortable with what has worked for them over time and are resistant to anything that might threaten the marketing stalwarts they have relied on for years. This group will, however, be moved to change if there is compelling evidence presented to them that simply cannot be denied. Social media adoption opportunity: 5
Relationship Marketers . This is an interesting bunch that is more common than we might imagine. This group has been working with a specific agency or account representative for so long that they wouldn’t know how to move to another option for fear of offending their long-term vendor or hurting a personal relationship. I have heard stories where companies stay with vendors out of pity (I am not making this up, honest) rather than make a business decision that would benefit the company. Healthy relationships are good but when they exist at the expense of good judgment and common sense then there may be trouble. The hope for social media adoption here is when leadership changes so do the long-standing relationships. Timing is everything with this group. Social media adoption opportunity: 6
I realize that this is not painting a picture of “low hanging fruit” for social media adoption and integration. The truth of the matter is that these companies make up a rather large percentage of businesses in the U.S., so there is both need and opportunity. Can that need be turned into action? That’s the $64,000 question.
I believe that until these marketers get on board, social media will be limited in its scope. This is very different than limited in its success. Success using social media for business benefit is already proven many times over. But much like the search marketing industry, the prospects for growth will be determined by when the early adopters and influencers have run their course, and the larger group of marketers listed above decide to play or stay.
What do you think? Do you know any companies like these? If so, what will it take for these marketers to make the jump into what many believe is a significant part of successful marketing efforts in the very near future?,