In Read This First, I describe three types of individuals: The Get-Its, the Traditionals, and the Running-with-Scissors.
- The Get-Its, understand how new media is different from mass media. Although they may be skeptical, they see the value of these new communications channels and are willing to make adjustments to use them effectively.
- Running-with Scissors are those who want to try everything, independent of how much business-sense the activities make.
- And the Traditionals consist of those so wedded to their old communications ideas, that they’ll never accept the power of new media.
But since the book’s release, I’ve noticed that the Traditionals are morphing. No longer able to hold back the onslaught of “social media” requests from their bosses and customers, traditionals have implemented feign strategies. For example, agencies who once rejected new media as inferior to mass media are pretending to be “Get-its.” The problem with these Traditionals in Get-its clothing is that their underlying philosophy hasn’t changed. They still belittle the value of an online audience. They continue to venerate journalists while simultaneously denigrating bloggers. And finally, their modus operandi is to create content that delights themselves rather than delighting their client’s clients.
Here’s how it plays out. Upper management considers new media as an experiment–a hedge against the potential demise of old media. Therefore, rather than invest new monies or reallocate existing budgets into new media content creation, management piles the tasks incrementally on top of employees with traditional marketing and PR responsibilities. Most of the time, these employees are very enthusiastic and end up creating successful blogs, meaningful Facebook Pages, and information-filled Twitter feeds. However, at about the six-month mark, just as “the experiment” shows signs of working, those same employees begin to feel the burden of constantly creating compelling content. It’s at this point that management blunders.
Rather than removing ineffective traditional communications activities from their employees plates, or even hiring new employees to offload some of the burden, management looks to outsource the activity. They eventually find an agency who says all of the right things, and hands-over the content-creation tasks. Over the next few months, the agency dutifully meets their contract obligations, by producing a “blog post per week,” “three tweets per business day,” and “one Facebook Wall post per business day.”
Recently, I’ve watched two clients attempt this transition with disastrous results. Their blogs, once filled with interesting stories, have become the repositories for press releases and marketing drivel. Their Facebook pages, once the catalyst for thriving community discussions, have become bloated shilling machines. And their Twitter accounts, once filled with relevant content, have become poster children for self-aggrandizing in 140 characters or less.
The development of compelling content is a serious job that belongs in-house. Does your management have the intestinal fortitude to make it happen?