Another report from the front lines of agency – client dynamics. Being charged with actually selling-in Social Media programs with a variety of industry categories, I have gotten a taste of the true acceptance level of this new marketing phenomena – and to be blunt “we ain’t there yet”. Yes, the Directors of Marketing and Marketing Managers of the world absolutely get it. Many of them are practicioners of Social Media, and read enough marketing intelligence to have a gauge on its ginormous marketing potential. But what about their bosses? Not to be rude, but I’m talking about those silver haired bastions of corporate America who are straddling the fence of traditional marketing and Social Media, or as some say, Digital PR. From what I’m seeing and hearing, many of them are terrified at the thought of an on-line conversation about them and not by them. Unlike television, there is no 15 second delay to catch criticism or insults. On-line conversations are the equivalent of the Wild Wild West to your typical CEO.
Two recent, real life examples come to mind. The first is with a regional healthcare provider. In this instance, a very smart, customized Social Media program was gladly accepted at the DOM level, and had the support of the entire marketing department. Things were hunky dory. The program was off and running and agency folks were doing there thing with the smiling acceptance of the client. It seemed perfect. That is, until the higher authorities became aware of the program. Yes, they had read about it and probably even watched their spouses and children do it. But having their company become the focal point of an on-line conversation? Faggeduboutit. The program is now temporarily “suspended” until an educational phase comes to fruition. The program will re-surface. There is little doubt about that. Sad thing is, their top area competitors who had not even gotten near the starting line, can now jump in the Social Media game and probably get a leg up. The other example involves one of our great nation’s largest healthcare providers. Brilliant minds at the corporate level have issued an edict basically saying “no Social Media!”. The current policy is: We don’t have a policy but we will get back to you. In the meantime, every Social Media initiative must be run up the flagpole and we will get back to you with an approval, maybe.
Exciting times – strange times. All at the same time.