Sounds a bit much, but I mean it. “Social Media” is the latest opportunity for marketing professionals to add value and contribute to the business they support. Marketing pros who embrace Social Media to generate measurable results are more likely to be seen as strategic contributors to the business, not merely order takers for sales literature.
I have been a marketer and promoter for ten years and have loved helping businesses grow. In my experience, however, it used to be that marketing, communications, and public relations were seen as internal services – nonessential to the core businesses – sort of like purchasing or mailroom!
But not anymore! So, what changed?
The Dot-Com Boom
The dot-com boom of the 1990s launched a new era for us all, especially for marketing and communications professionals! Internet use increased, which spurred better technologies, which in turn drove greater use and so on. Suddenly people expected great content to match the great technology – all tailored to their individual needs – and the marketing and communications professionals become more important.
Once companies started to interact online with a much wider audience, branding became much more important. Before the Internet, traditional stakeholders like customers, prospects, employees, and shareholders would base their perception of the brand on their personal experience with the product or service. In the new world of the Internet, perceptions of the brand were based on much more fluid and less controlled factors, which made it more important to define the brand carefully. It also became more important to set “expectations” for the brand in advance of delivering on “experiences” for the brand.
Companies realized that an organization’s brand is dynamic and involves several facets that cannot be handled passively. Marketing and communications professional roles started gaining momentum and value in the context of the business strategy.
To deliver on great branding, companies had to deliver consistent messages through all channels of communications. That elevated the importance of integrated marketing. Yes, most companies fall short of a truly integrated marketing plan, with many initiatives executed independently of each other, diminishing the full potential of each initiative. Still, companies realize that branding is most successful with integrated marketing, and efforts to pull everything together continue relentlessly.
Social Media is not just the latest buzzword. It is the platform that brings together all of a company’s stakeholders plus commentators and observers. Its significance is driven by the immediate satisfaction and transparency that all stakeholders crave. It is now necessary for organizations to invest more in marketing, communications and public relations pros to oversee the activity. So, what was once considered the next online fad has now become a business driver. Thankfully, this is drawing the marketing and communications professionals into more visible strategic roles within the organization.
In other words, as tempting as it may be to trivialize social media, it is the very importance of social media to our stakeholders that at last elevates us marketing and communications pros to even higher levels of strategic importance within our companies. As one very thankful marketing professional, I can’t wait to see how social media continues to evolve in ways that further strengthens our profession!