Tagged: blog

Will Social Media Kill the Marketing Industry? Spoiler Alert: No

ArmedTwitterI recently read an article on PolicyMic titled “Can Social Media Totally Kill the Marketing Industry?” and it got me thinking about the future of advertising. Apparently, PolicyMic is a “democratic online news platform,” which I have rather pessimistically interpreted to mean PolicyMic is a site where articles are written by people who want to share their opinions, as opposed to by people who actually have authority on the subject matter. This particular post was written by Cole Johnson, who raises an interesting question, but doesn’t really go on to answer it. He seems to imply that social media will undermine traditional marketing efforts and institutions, but never makes an argument as to why. In fact, Cole’s article actually ends up focusing more on the role technology plays in our world and how its use is influenced by age and other factors, but I’d like to discuss the question raised in the title.

Cole seems to suggest that because social media has been used by many companies – both large and small – to effectively market products and services, we’re on the road to the eradication of today’s marketing industry. And while I agree that we’ve seen a tremendous shift in the advertising industry over the last 5 years, I’m quite sure that the industry itself isn’t going anywhere. While the method of delivering advertisements and product information to consumers has changed considerably, there will always be a need for very creative and well-trained individuals who can create the images and copy to convey that information. Unfortunately, many companies have found out the hard way that putting a random employee in charge of the company Twitter account because they’re “good with computers” can be a pretty terrible idea. It’s not enough to sign up for a bunch of social accounts and start Tweeting about your products and services. There’s an art to crafting compelling messages and balancing self-promotion with providing value to your followers through the content you publish. This is the art of marketing.

In my opinion, social media has actually made the role of the marketer even more important. It’s like auto racing. The car is a piece of technology that the vast majority of Americans feel comfortable operating. Cars are part of our culture and driving one is something we often take for granted because we’ve been doing it for so long. So how come we’re not all trying our hand at the NASCAR circuit? We can all drive a car, right? If feeling comfortable with something and knowing how to operate it was the only requirement, then I should be the next Jeff Gordon. Much to my dismay, this will never be the case because a basic understanding and level of comfort with a piece of technology does not mean you are going to be good at using it. The use of social media at the highest level follows suit. Just because some employee signed up for Facebook in 2007, it doesn’t mean he or she is qualified to operate a Fortune 500 company’s Facebook Page. Just like with NASCAR, the creme of digital marketing rises to the top and they are the ones steering multi-million dollar social campaigns.

The stakes are so much higher now that social media has changed the game. If you released an offensive TV commercial in the 80s, you could pull the plug as soon as the calls started coming in and that would pretty much be the end of it. There might be some word-of-mouth damage done, but it would be relatively containable. These days, one errant Facebook post or rash Tweet in the heat of the moment can spell disaster for a brand’s reputation. Screenshots will be taken and the damage will spread like wildfire. Brands have spent months cleaning up 140 character messes made in a matter of seconds. The burden of creating a measurable ROI and not screwing things up in the process falls squarely on the shoulders of the marketing team or agency. And just because social media is at the fingertips of anyone who wants it, that doesn’t mean just anyone can use it to effectively sell goods or market a brand.

So is social media going to kill the marketing industry? In my mind, the definitive answer is “no.” If anything, social media is actually creating more opportunities for boutique firms like ours. As long as there are products and services to be sold, there will be a profession for people who excel at marketing these goods. The medium used to relate the information will definitely change over time, as we’ve seen with the introduction of social media, but the marketing industry is here to stay.

How has social media affected the way you market your business or are marketed to? Let me know in the comments!

Vlogging…It Was Inevitable

Vlogging is an interesting way to add a little more personality to your web presence and we thought we’d give it a shot. In the future, we’ll be vlogging every once in a while about various topics related to marketing or SUM, itself.

This first episode is just a little introduction to the three SUM co-founders and a brief explanation of how SUM came to be. Hope you enjoy it!


Has Technology Changed How We Communicate?

Tin Can

Ok, duh.

Of course technology has changed how we communicate. It does so on a daily basis. But I’m not really talking about the countless methods of communication – email, instant messaging, video chat, etc. – we actually use to communicate, I’m talking about the fundamental effect that technology is having on how we communicate and interact with one another.

Allow me illustrate…

I was at the office, sitting in my comfy swivel chair and working on something for a client. I was in the zone – I’m talking record levels of productivity here, people. And judging by the last hour of silence, the guys were in the zone as well. One minute I’m cranking away, and the next minute, eeeerrrrr, everything came to a screeching halt. Working rhythm? Gone. The zone? Far, far away.

And the cause? A simple question. I had reached a point in my work that required a little more information from my partners and I needed to ask them something before I could continue. Now here’s the interesting part of the story and the moment that prompted the writing of this post.

For some reason…for some inexplicable reason, instead of simply swiveling around and asking them out loud, I chose to open my mail program, compose an email, add both of their names, type out my question, and click send.

Now, depending on your work environment, this might not strike you as odd. I’m sure many of you work in large office buildings, full of busy people, so the idea of asking all of your questions in person seems exhausting or even impossible. So to clarify for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the SUM offices, it’s not like the three of us have fancy, separate offices. And there aren’t any doors, walls, stairs, or barriers of any kind to navigate. It’s basically just a room with three desks in it. And it’s no Boeing hanger, either. I could probably spit on both of my coworkers from my chair.

So having removed all of the plausible excuses for why I chose to send an email instead of simply piping up and asking them, I think we should focus on what the heck my problem is.

For some reason, I chose to waste time – one of the most precious commodities a small business has – by sending an email and waiting for a response from two guys that sit within 10 feet of me. The question was simple enough. It could have been answered in a couple of words, but I chose to put the ball in their court and wait it out.

Now, truth be told, I may have sensationalized this story a bit for my own selfish blogging purposes. The fact of the matter is, sending that email was neither epiphanous nor out of the ordinary. It’s actually a common occurrence around here and while many of the emails make sense in their written form, many others could have been more quickly discussed and addressed out loud. I think the reason behind this habit points to how I’ve grown up and how technology has helped shape how I interact with others.

I think the instantaneous and casual nature of email and instant messaging has allowed many people, including us, to consider sending a simple message to be less effort and less intrusive than simply talking to someone. The communication tools available today are extremely powerful and, to be honest, SUM would have a very difficult time conducting business without them. But I – and likely many others – have become so dependent on them that they have, in some instances, replaced my own voice.

So has technology affected how we communicate with each other, beyond the literal means of doing so? I believe it has. And while I don’t view this as inherently bad, I think that removing the verbal communication from a group of people is a dangerous road and could, over time, start to affect things like camaraderie and team work.

Needless to say, I can’t let this happen at SUM. Having noticed it first, it’s my job to step up and reverse the trend. So let’s start now…

Me: “Hey Kurtis”

Kurtis: “What’s up?”

Me: “How’s your day going?!”

Kurtis: “Pretty good.”

Me: “Cool.”

Well, I think I’ve set the wheels of change in motion at the SUM offices. Tyler Smith – saving the office from the black hole of non-verbal communication, one arbitrary conversation at a time.