Maybe I am being dramatic, but if I hear the word “social” one more time today I am going to throw my laptop at the window.
“Social” has unfortunately become a buzzword. I would say this has happened over the last year or so (does anyone agree, disagree?) It’s driving me bananas (not a Denny’s plug, just the way my brain feels right now.) With these last three sentences of vented frustration, you’re probably thinking: hypocrite. I know, I am a social CRM analyst. Let me share with you how I avoid feeling like a hypocrite on this by sharing with you the way 40% of my client inquiries start:
Client: Hi Jenny, we need a social strategy.
Jenny: Okay and what is it that you’re looking to do?
Client: See what people are saying about us on social media. Oh, and brand awareness, general marketing.
Jenny: In order to…?
Notice how I am not using the term “social” when I talk back. I practically beg and plead with people on a daily basis not to go after “social” for “social’s sake” – and yes, people have told me that is a meaningless phrase and to those people I say, go work in corporate marketing for a week and come back to me. What I am saying in an overly complicated way is that the word “social” is stigmatized. “Social” is something employees are supposed to be/do and businesses are “being.”
The word makes people angry and defensive. A few weeks ago at an event I was told by not one, but two attendees that I wasn’t an expert on “social” and that they have been “social” for their entire careers. If when we say “social” we’re talking about talking in person, or through email, or on the phone, or attending an event – then yes, you and the cavemen have been social forever, no one is debating you. The problem is, they know and I know that, that isn’t what is meant when people say “social” now. When someone says “social” now they’re talking about mass:mass media, and more often than not they’re talking about externally facing social networks like Facebook or Twitter.
And externally-facing mass:mass media isn’t something everyone or every business should be leveraging. Just because Autodesk used social media (a peer-to-peer community) to cut customer support costs and realized ROI of about $6.8 million [clients only] – doesn’t mean you will. And that is okay! I know that isn’t what you’re hearing from your management, but it is!
Along the what-we-mean-when-we-say-social thread, the term “inherently social” is also misused “on the regular.” Since we can all stop arguing for a minute and agree that “social” doesn’t mean socializing in the way we’ve meant it for the past hundreds of thousands of years, saying something is inherently social would probably have to mean it is built off of/or with a connector to Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Here is all this rant and rave is really asking for: please stop defining “social” as the dictionary does whenever someone comes to you and says “we need to get social!” Additionally, when someone says that to you, can you please ask them or take it upon yourself to define potential business benefits [clients only] for the actions you are about to take? Thank you.
P.S.: And for the record, I have not ever, and will not ever, be calling myself an “expert” in anything. There is always room to learn, analyze and form new perspectives, which is fortunately what I do for a living.
P.S. x2: Try to forgive all of the grammatical errors. Just try.