What’s in the word “social” anyway?

Over on the Econsultancy blog, they interviewed Jeremiah Owyang (who I’m a big fan of), who had a lot of really great answers to questions on his new role at the Altimeter Group what a personal brand means to him.  I had a quick thought that I wanted to share with you.

One of the questions - or rather, his answer - that popped out at me was:

So you don’t want to use the ’social’ word anymore?
Social is here today, and brands are wrestling with how to harness it.  However, there are more technologies coming, and we don’t want our clients to be blindsided by the next wave of tools that will empower customers and leave brands behind. Mobile, location based cloud services are all on the horizon. It’s more than social.
There was a knee-jerk reaction with social: “Quick, establish a work team.” But social is just one tool set. We’re looking at the broader set of emerging technologies and on boarding these technologies. We want to get companies ready with the roles and process to onboard these new technologies and conduct experiments where failure is acceptable. Rather than having the knee jerk reaction like they did in social. It used to be that all of a sudden, a CEO would mandate they must have a blog but not truly understand why and how it fits in to the corporate strategy. Most companies don’t have a way to allow new technology to come in. Most importantly, employees and customers can adopt these technologies without the CIO involved at all. If management allows for experimentation to happen, the successful elements will come through. Right now they happen in skunk works that are not sanctioned by management.

I love this answer because it’s how I and the rest of the crew here at the Other Side feels about using the word “social.”  We don’t consider ourselves to be a social media firm, and never have.  While we certainly do most of our work in that space, we also consider the “social media” part to be a set of tools.

We do marketing.  We feel strongly that marketing is a larger function in which social media components exist.  Online is a  channel that marketing should be developed in, and, as Jeremiah points out, not a knee-jerk reaction to an industry trend.  Facebook could be gone tomorrow.  Strong development of your brand in a place that people - your customers - are going to continue to go to is where the long-term value resides, and being able to navigate that landscape is the important part.

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  • Kate- agree 100% Twitter could be the next AOL, right? Today's social media tools are creating the buzz that companies want to get involved in, but let's not get overly addicted to Facebook and Twitter. The marketing/relationship-making space is still evolving...
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