Is social media too much to learn?

Picture 2

During  a recent 4As webinar on social media, I asked the nearly 300 participants a simple question. What is your typical clients’ view of social media? There were three choices and subjects couldn’t weight them, they had to pick one.

The greatest word of mouth opportunity ever.

A new way to get closer to customers and prospects.

Oh Sh%&, one more thing to learn.

Believe it or not 66 percent of the audience chose  “Oh sh%& one more thing to learn.”

Only 31 percent reported that their clients considered social a way to get closer to their communities. And an astonishingly low three percent described their clients as marketers who recognize the word-of-mouth potential inherent in platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

True, social media is not the easiest thing for marketers to figure out. They need a clear understanding of how their customers interact with each other and their content. Are they spectators, critics, or even creators? Until they know it’s pretty hard to decide how the brand should engage.

They’ve got to learn at least something about the platforms, what they can do with the APIs, and how to create content in places that are as much about participation as about sitting back and watching.

And they need more than a basic knowledge of both off–the-shelf and custom metrics to measure everything from reach to sentiment to actual results.

Picture 3Finally, there’s the commitment. Social media is not a fling, it’s a long term relationship.

But there are only two ways to interpret a reaction like “Oh SH&%, one more thing to learn.” For agencies — advertising, PR, inbound marketing — it’s a reminder to do an even better job of teaching clients what they need to know. And it’s an invitation to make sure you know enough yourself to do it for them. After all, once all marketers realize that the benefits of the other two options far outweigh the burden of learning, they’ll expect you to have it figured out.

What are your thoughts? Does this quick poll represent your clients or your brand?

Artwork/painting: James W. Johnson