When last week I uploaded a presentation endorsing the importance social media, David Armano pointed out – tongue in cheek – that someone had forgotten to send me the memo that Web 2.0 was going down the drain. With this post on Daily Fix, I’d like to broaden the debate and get your views on my position that I did get the memo, yet ignored it for missing the point.
Unless you’re a Silicon Valley VC or entrepreneur, the speed at which Web 2.0 is or isn’t happening is irrelevant. What is important, is that social, search and other technologies have already reached sufficient critical mass to make the elusive commodity we call word-of-mouth (WOM) “visible,” “indelible,” and “measurable.” And to top it all “impossible to control.”
For traditional marketers this is worse than a nightmare. In the old days, you could still control a conversation by throwing enough money at it or outsmarting the media. I remember tactically forgetting to appear on the evening news in the middle of a PR crisis. Then, 24 hours later the media had moved on, and so did the water-cooler conversations.
Faced with the same crisis on the Web today, I’d need to blog, write and influence my heart out to contain the message. And even if I was especially fast, truthful and professional about it, I would probably fail because Google footprints cannot be erased.
So, from a marketing communication perspective, we have moved past the question whether Web 2.0 is or isn’t happening. Even if no additional consumer would embrace the new technologies that are coming our way, it is impossible to deny the influence of online conversations on the perception of and preference for brands.
That is why – in my opinion – anyone involved in sales or marketing has no other option but to accept the social media reality and manage every contact as if they were the editor-in-chief of the WSJ himself.
On the how-to’s there’s a bunch of Web 2.0 and buzz-management gurus that can help (hey, someone even called me). But I guess there’s also a much more effective, be it somewhat old-fashioned method, which has been proven to work.
As brands are defined by the conversations and communities that support them, you could try and delight these customer communities to the point they only want to say good things about you.
But then again, perhaps it’s the delighting that is the real issue …
What do you say, am I crazy ?