A thought leadership storm happened recently in the Social Media Today LinkedIn group. My colleague, Jack Greene, asked a seemingly simple question in the discussion forum – “Can social media co-exist with traditional marketing?” Jack was curious about what peers thought about the matter so he posted his ideas for people to respond. And what happened next was a veritable flood of controversy, emotions, and productive idea exchange. More than 200 people responded within the span of a few weeks and the conversation is still going on! Clearly, Jack’s single question opened Pandora’s box.
The cascade of opinions regarding whether social media can co-exist with traditional marketing fell into the following three categories: (a) those favoring traditional marketing, (b) those supporting an integrated approach and (c) those who believe solely in social media practices. What I found amazing is the passion with which people responded. Camps formed: business people, executives, social media leaders and consumers all shared their opinions, concerns and excitement about the role social media can play within the marketing domain.
Jack tapped into more than the question du jour; he pointed to the elephant in the (conference) room. The question is really whether social media is its own domain. Is it a practice, a strategy, a discrete operation or is it a tool, tactic or strategy within Marketing? This taps into a host of questions:
- Staffing – Should marketing folks be the executors of social media or should it have its own dedicated skill set?
- Budget – Who owns social media within the organization?
- Measurement – Can social media measurements be isolated or does it need to occur within a larger context of ROI? and,
- Organizational structure – Is social media stand-alone or should it be integrated into the larger value chain in order to be meaningful?
The discussion never comes to complete resolution of these questions, and in fact, it surfaces even more questions than it answers. Perhaps, today, there are no clear answers. But the art of knowing the right questions to ask is often more important than the actual answers themselves.
Jack Greene invoked an idea storm from around the world with a simple question – and clearly one that needed to be asked. He has created a great report that summarizes the discussion and its main findings. You can download it here. Click on Resources at the bottom of the page to access the report (in full disclosure I helped him with it) and let’s keep the discussion going inside organizations for the answers lie within the questions. Lets keep the discussion going… what do you think?
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