The fundamental difference between old media and new media is the idea of discussion. While TV and print are essentially one way channels of communication, the web is a platform for response. It was conceived as a means of sharing information between locations rather than just transmitting.
Of course, not everyone uses the Internet in this way: A hallmark of businesses that have moved on line reluctantly, rather than being born there is often the lack of appreciation of this need for dialogue. When an organisation has operated successfully using a particular methodology for a long time, there can be a great deal of cultural inertia that prevents meaningful change. Businesses that treat the web as no more than another media channel to be lumped in alongside TV, Newspapers and Radio and deploy the same marketing approach there will never operate efficiently or create an identity that adequately resonates with their customers.
People expect to be talked to rather than shouted at, to have their views and opinions taken into account, and to be VALUED. Businesses on line that fail to engage, and simply use the web as another advertising opportunity to shout are falling into the same marketing trap that John Wannamaker was talking about:
With Social Media, businesses quickly discover that they cannot adopt the same approach that they do with other channels. It’s hard to hide behind a snappy slogan or clever advert when you’re speaking directly to a customer. Social Media is something that a lot of marketers within organisations know that they need to “do”, but don’t know how.
I see a lot of different approaches to Social Media, and more often than not the ones that are successful are the ones where the marketing department is not distinct from the rest of the organisation. With relationship marketing you need a relationship. You need more than just a demographic chart to target your customers, you need an understanding that one size rarely fits all, and that everyone is looking for something different.
The reason that big business often fails to “get” Social Media in any meaningful way is that they think like big businesses and overlook individual customers in favour of aggregating a customer base. Smaller organisations that work with individuals can talk to their customers as individuals, and this is essentially Social Media.
It’s not impossible for big business to do social media, but it requires a different mindset in order to achieve meaningful success.