There has been quite a bit of chatter lately around social hitting it's apex as a shiny object. I couldn't agree more, but this doesn't mean the death of social. It means the rational refocus from shiny object driven exuberance to real business.
John Jantsch recently wrote, The reason social media doesn’t matter is because, upon further review, it doesn’t exist beyond a label. He then goes on to say, ... now that we understand what actually happened it’s time to drop the term, concept, and confusion and focus on what really matters.
In other words, social isn't a niche practice, it's a mean of doing business. The term is hackneyed and we need to call it what it is, our new business reality.
Now what's interesting is that there is the suggestion that one doesn't need an agency or department to do this business. I couldn't disagree more. Social business is often a hard left turn for major brands. Big brands believe their success comes from what they say and how it resonates. Brand managers and even senior communications management are still wrapping their heads around social. Advisers, communicators, relationship builders, media buyers, content creators and publishing strategists are all just beginning to collaborate to make big business happen. Agencies that can facilitate and connect, advisers that can guide and assist, these are indispensable allies that brands often lean on to bring concepts to the table and to the market.
But to Mark Evans' point, What happens when everyone is into social media? Then we get into organizational design. Then we identify overlap, trim the waste to create efficiencies, build new business infrastructure and organize to enable greater collaboration which in turn enables innovation and creativity at new levels. This too will take quite a while to happen and is really just beginning to hit the market. Strategic advisers in this space will have quite a bit of work ahead of them for the next 10 years if they can demonstrate success.
So what happens beyond business as usual when brands and corporations embrace social? Their ideas become bigger, better, smaller and more effective. Creativity finds a new home in the new dynamic. B2B finds an empowered workforce and client roster, tighter connections across the distribution and usage funnels and tighter collaboration internally. B2C learns not just a new way to communicate but a new way to approach every aspect of their business. Denise Lee Yohn (MediaWeek link) gets very close to this endgame, but falls short of realizing the true potential of social.
Social is not a replacement for your business infrastructure.
Social is not a hammer for every nail.
Social is a new dynamic. Most companies still haven't fully resolved the what social means to their business, and we as an industry still haven't found the real answer. There are untapped worlds of creativity and opportunity.
If you think social is a lot of hot air with little real value then you're right, long term prospects aren't as shiny and bright. If you are a social marketer or communicator and are really good at what you do (enabling social marketing or communications), you will continue to grow your business in the years ahead, as most brands still haven't cracked even the basics. But If you think social is a new means of communicating and facilitating business of doing business, your day has just begun.