From where I sit it appears a great number of companies need to turn the spotlight on themselves for a true and honest evaluation of themselves before jumping into the social media pool or even AFTER they get their feet wet.
There's a famous quote that reads "Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment." How I would translate this into the world of marketing and advertising is this...
"Knowing others is wisdom..." - The "others" refers to your customers and prospects but especially your existing customers. It is your job to know them, to know as much as you can about them which theoretically will help you identify prospects who possess the same characteristics and demographic traits. So, yes it is quite wise Mr. Marketer and Mrs. Advertiser to know your customers. But you already know that, right? Of course you do.. .
"Knowing yourself is enlightenment..." - This is such a powerful statement, is it not? How many companies/businesses/advertisers do you think really know themselves AND are honest in their in self-evaluation?
Here's how I think many a conversation in business to business marketing and business to consumer marketing conference rooms around the world has gone down in the past few years, AKA when the world began to wake up to the power of social media:
CMO/CEO: "Ah Bob, we need to be on Facebook and Twitter and let's start a blog too. Our sales are way down and I see our competitors are all over social media and their sales are up... so obviously the missing ingredient is social media, so get to it."
Bob: "You got it, we'll get started right away."
Fast forward a month or two after the company started their Facebook, Twitter and blog accounts.
CMO/CEO: "Bob, our sales are still way down, what's going on? Why hasn't social media helped our sales liked it has our competition?"
Now here's how I think the conversation SHOULD go down but never does...
CMO/CEO: "Ah Bob, we need to be on Facebook and Twitter and let's start a blog too. Our sales are way down and I see our competitors are all over it and they're sales are up so... so obviously the missing ingredient is social media, so get to it."
Bob: "Well with all due respect, do you think the reason our sales are down is because..."
CMO/CEO: "What? Out with it!"
Bob: "Because our products aren't very good."
CMO/CEO: "So you're saying, Bob, that the problem is with our products and our company? Well maybe we should take a long hard look at what we're doing internally before we try and convince people to like us and follow us and all that via social media."
Welcome To Fantasy Island...
Of course I know the above conversation is one right out of fantasy land but I wanted to make a point that, well my man Jay Baer tell you... "If your company sucks, Twitter is the least of your worries." Now, Jay was referring to a study that showed 70% of all complaints sent to companies via Twitter go unanswered but in the context of my article, you can replace "Twitter" with "Social Media" in Jay's quote.
"If your company sucks, social media is the least of your worries."
A while back I wrote a post entitled Social Media's Dirty Little Secret in which I wrote the following:
"So to all those companies, businesses and marketers out there who think social media will cure all that ails you... I'm afraid you're in for a rude awakening. It can surely help... in a big way. But if your product, your service, your ware... your whatever is not good to begin with, social media - or ANY advertising/marketing campaign will NOT be able to help."
I know hard it can be for humans, let alone full blown companies, to look inside, to take a real hard look at themselves for they may not like what they see. But if more companies did this - on a regular basis mind you, and they made any necessary adjustments that come from this self-reflection - they would begin to see that by looking in, they are better in the long run when they go out... AKA, when they speak to their customers via social media and ALL channels.