Death of Social Media?

Word of Warning: This post contains 73% more snark than the average post here at 42 Points. My tongue was buried so deeply in my cheek while writing that I nearly choked on three separate occassions. Readers are advised to refrain from consuming liquids (or to wrap their keyboards in some sort of cling wrap) while enjoying (or not) this post (and its many parenthetical statements).

For those of you unfamiliar with such cunning literary devices, the question mark in the title of this post has been cleverly placed in order to hedge my bets and lessen the likelihood that I  be declared a douchebag for making such a bold proclamation about everyone’s favourite buzz concept. Sneaky, I know.

Anyway, on to the task at hand. At the risk of running newly-minted social media experts and gurus out of business (’cause, you know, this blog has that sort of sway), I think it’s high time we communications and public relations people ditch social media.

Oh, I don’t dare suggest we stop using (or advising that our clients use) the tools and tactics that we all love so much. Podcasts. blogs and YouTube videos are here to stay, as far as I’m concerned. I just think we should do ourselves a favour and stop pretending that they mark a revolution worthy of a parade or at least some campy t-shirts.

Granted, I wasn’t really plying this trade when social media advocacy became all the rage for the flacks and spinsters I now love so dear. But I assume it was adopted as a cause célèbre so that we could all sound really cutting edge and justify jacking our hourly rates. And more power to that, am I right?

But here’s the thing, friends: I think we might have done ourselves a disservice. Selling a revolution can be pretty tough when you’re dealing with risk-averse, well-established companies and organizations. Asking them if they’ve considered a social media strategy seems to do as much good as shouting “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” at Marie Antoinette as ol’ Louis’ head bounced off the cutting room floor.

*Pauses to allow time to click over to Wikipedia to make sense of all of that*

Everyone back? Good.

I had a great exchange with Bryan Person this morning about some of the work I’ve been doing at my real job lately. After going back and forth about our podcasts he stumped me with what appears to be a pretty straightforward question: “How did this fit into your social media strategy?” (Ignore the quotes, they’re for dramatic effect. That’s actually a paraphrasing).

The answer? I don’t have a social media strategy, I have a communicaitons and outreach strategy with some social elements. After initially feeling like Bryan would expose me for the con artist that I clearly am (he didn’t, to his credit), I was hit with a sudden realization that had I phrased my proposals as some bold new approach to member engagement I might not have found the traction that I did. Instead I pitched them as what they were, logical extensions of things we were already doing.

See, as cool as many of these tools are, they are pretty much useless to the likes of me unless they are rolled out as part of a comprehensive communications strategy. Don’t take my word for it, go read Dave Fleet’s incredibly useful e-book on communications planning. You’ll see a section called tactics neatly embedded in the overall document – not as a standalone.

Granted, there are considerations that need to be… erm… considered… before using any social tool but, really, aren’t there considerations that must be, again, considered, with any tool or tactic? Aren’t there ramifications for any approach to communciations? Let me check Dave’s book again… yup, there it is, the ‘issues’ section. Man, that guy thought of everything.

So what says the great blogosphere on the subject? Are we making life harder for ourselves by pretending we’re seeing the dawning of a new age? Or am I being overly-simplistic in order to write an overly-wordy, ostensibly-entertaining post full of blatant link bait? Oh, and if it’s the latter, does that make me a Social Media Expert?


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