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07/29/2009 The Social Media Guy

Locally, when I run into people at business functions, I'm starting to get the "Oh, you're the social media guy!" On the one hand, it's good that people pay attention to what they read and hear. On the other hand, what I'm finding is that a lot of business people keep removing the word "marketing" from social media.

Yes, I do social media marketing. It's a small but growing part of what I do. The biggest reaction I get is when I talk about how social media marketing is a small but interesting part of online and offline marketing. Once that conversation revs up I notice something changes in the business people.

What changes? They're all looking for the digital silver bullet. I've seen this at it relates to online for the last 13 years, when the new "new thing" hits the streets. First banners, then things like search, forums, flash microsites, mobile and now, social media all blipped on and off the radar.

Boy.can.small I'm sensing a desire from marketers, as they search for the digital silver bullet, to have the same type of relationship with online media that marketers had with offline media - distance. When you made a TV ad, the agency took care of making it and placing it in the media. It was a very hands off relationship.

But online is all about dialogue. You can't have a hands off dialogue (well you can, it just won't work) in online marketing. A good dialogue, as any good marriage counselor will tell you, means showing up and working at it.

Social media is bright, shiny and a lot of fun! But it's not a silver bullet. It works best when you connect it with other online and offline marketing initiatives, if you have them. You need to connect to your customer service. While you won't have to spend big money on media dollars or creative, you'll have to spend time listening, responding, sharing and informing.

Marketers and companies have to personally invest in it, and they still need to keep doing other online marketing.

Really, I'm the online marketing guy. All of the tools I use aim to recognize the promise of digital - two-way, real people communication. Social media just happens to be the newest, and one of the most effective ways yet to do this.


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