Recently, in preparing for a panel discussion at Mansfield Tanick & Cohen’s 2011 Women Entrepreneurs Conference, our moderator, Jeff O’Brien, posed a great question that has continued to percolate in my mind ever since…
“Is social media properly classified as “web marketing” or is it something else?”
What a great question. And it's one that I’m itchin to weigh in on because it speaks to a larger issue I have with social media being automatically lumped into the "web" category.
My opinion is that, no, social media marketing is NOT web marketing for a number of reasons -- the most obvious of which is that social media isn’t always accessed via the web (a small, but important distinction explored further in the cover story, “The Web is Dead" in a 2010 issue of Wired Magazine).
For example, the last couple of weeks I was sick and injured and pretty much worked exclusively off of my iPad. During that time, all of the information I accessed was pulled into my iPad through apps, feeds and API’s. (That is, it came from the Internet, but not from the web). So it follows then, that the marketing I was exposed to during this time was digital marketing or interactive marketing, but it wasn’t WEB marketing.
I know you’re probably thinking, “digital, interactive, web…whatever Jen…it’s all online. No one knows the difference.”
[caption id="attachment_3084" align="alignright" width="300" caption=""Hey, you've got your social media in my website!" "No, you've got your website in my social media!""][/caption]
And to some extent, you’re right. To laypeople, the distinction is probably meaningless.
But for marketers, I think this intermingling of terms creates a slippery slope in which we treat all things online the same, when in reality they function differently.
Social media isn’t a bunch of little websites. It’s a dynamic communications platform.
And yet the tendency is still for interactive marketers (heck, most marketers in general) to use website terms to label it and a website schema to understand it.
Basically, social media is a square peg that a lot of marketers want to jam into the web hole.
(Yeah...I know that sounds dirty.)
Social media is not just a set of digital properties to which you can simply extend your existing web protocols. Instead, it's a gateway to interconnected communities of people who'll likely interact with your company differently than they would if they'd visited your website.
You should interact differently, too. For example...
I'm not suggesting that you treat your social as some sort of strange and exotic brand beast that requires special care and feeding. But I do think people should recognize it as something other than your website's "little sister."
Nor am I suggesting that all interactive marketers are clueless when it comes to social media. But I do think that mastery of the one does not automatically extend to mastery of the other.
Ultimately, I think the end goal for all companies should be the seamless integration of site and social. (And email and advertising and all the other online and offline tools with which you conduct your marketing.)
And how exactly does a company pull that off?
Now THAT'S an even better panel discussion question...
I’m a consultant, strategist, author, educator, and speaker with more than 30 years of professional experience. I’m passionately curious, fairly sassy, kinda dorky and seriously good at what I do.