A New Name for Social Media

Jim Blasingame

"Social media" is a new term for one of the oldest of human activities: communication. 
For individuals, the term is completely intuitive: connecting and sharing through online technologies.  And when platforms like Facebook and MySpace were built, the Digital Natives (part of Gen X and all of Gen Y) strapped this latest craze to a rocket and blasted it into the popular culture stratosphere.
But for a business, a social media strategy isn't about being intuitive, it's about return on investment. Consequently, the term could be a stumbling block for businesses on two levels.
1. Decision-makers older than the Digital Natives, not appreciating the time and resources spent on something called "social," might say, "If you want to visit, go see your grandmother. I need you to sell something today."
Indeed, even this industry's leaders have yet to produce anything but red ink for their fish-eyed bankers and long-suffering investors. 
2. The bloom is already falling off the public relations rose of the popular social media sites as the mainstream media shifts from ga-ga over the popular culture fruit-of-the-month to more critical reporting on business model viability, security, privacy and other issues. Therefore, business owners and managers may, unfortunately, associate challenges of the social media industry with the importance of building and serving online communities dedicated to their own customers. 
So, what's the answer?  Here are two thoughts:
1. In a business application, let's replace "social media" with the more accurate term, "business networking online" or how about, "building online communities"? This isn't, as Shakespeare would say, a rose by any other name. Any business activity that is as essential as building online communities is becoming deserves its own name.
2. Businesses large and small should focus appropriate resources on the essential 21st century marketing strategy of creating and nurturing online communities where they connect with customers and prospects who hang out there because they agree with the values of the hosting business and benefit from the value they find there.
As eBay became just another marketplace in the clouds, social media will morph into just another wrench in your marketing tool box. But the online communities your business builds will increasingly be the way you establish and maintain quality relationships with customers.
Write this on a rock... In the future, more customers will connect with your business through online communities you build and serve than from any other marketing source.

Jim Blasingame is creator and host of the Small Business Advocate Show.
Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

Print page