Saturday, August 24, 2013

Remind me: what is the point of "content marketing" and "social media" again?

I once had a boss who told me that Facebook was a fad, "just like Crocs," and therefore wasn't worth our company's time. Does anyone remember when Crocs passed a billion dollars in sales? (2011). The company is now ten years old, according to its corporate website/. Facebook, by contrast, is only nine years old, and with over $5 billion in sales in 2012, just qualified to join the Fortune 500 this spring. Certainly there have been and will no doubt always be fads. Pet rocks is a great example. It lasted six months (in 1975), just long enough to make the "inventor" a millionaire. Last month, it was "sharknado." Did that last an entire weekend? So, getting to the point, are the current buzzwords of Internet marketing fads or something longer lasting? And how does one tell the difference? Does it matter? That is, should you invest in learning and using the latest buzzword, without worrying about whether it's a fad? Mitch Joel steps back from the specific question in his newest book, out this spring, "Ctrl Alt Delete." He says (literally, in this case, since I'm listening to the audio edition), that we're in period of uncertainty about all things electronic and commercial, which he calls Purgatory. What to do in a period of uncertainty, confusion, fear? Take charge of your own destiny. Don't bet on the collapse of a fad -- bet on change. In a word, reboot. Now. For one example: do you really doubt that your customers are using smartphones? If you have looked at the statistics, the trend is inevitable, even if the carriers are making it difficult with their data plans, and some people still resist. The question, in fact, should not be which screen will win (PC, tablet, phone), nor even how you should manage a multi-screen world, but which screen is the focus of your customers' or prospects' attention at the moment? While other companies are waiting for a fad to end, or for the winner to be announced, a few companies are out ahead of the waiters, just doing it. And they are the ones that will be the winners, no matter what the trend or fad. Oh yes, the title question. What is the point of content marketing and social media marketing? To put your brand in direct contact with your customers and to provide them with something useful. The key word is useful. If you accept that, Joel says, then you should realize that the overarching objective you should always be working towards, is how to make yourself or your brand more useful. It might not (probably won't) be just words. More on this topic later.

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