Social media is over. Done. Finished. We’ve chatted. Engaged. Joined the conversation. Tweeted, Influenced. Facebooked. And told everyone how cool we are. Not to mention what we’ve had for lunch. We’ve tried all the shiny new tools. And that new social media smell has come and gone. In short, we’ve spent a heckuva lot of time talking, evangelizing and whining. So what’s next?

Is it time for it to die? For us to move on to something more productive? Not exactly. It’s time for social media to mature. Instead of being the next shiny thing, it’s finally starting to become integrated into everything a business does – from marketing, PR, customer support to employee engagement. At least that’s what I’m hearing and seeing. And believe.

Unless you’re living under a rock, in which case you wouldn’t likely be reading this, you’re probably coming to a similar realization. I don’t know about you, but I’m digesting way more information than I was just five years ago. Between Twitter, 40+ blogs, and various online news sources, I often struggle to make sense of it all. Social just to be social isn’t working. I’m either building quality relationships in the form of friendships and connections. Or learning new things that enhance my ability to do my job, add value to others or otherwise enrich my life or I’m just wasting time. Might as well watch Judge Judy if that’s the case. I’m getting picky about the content I read. More protective of my time. And every business needs to do the same.

Social media is now one more piece of integrated marketing – a powerful one at that. It’s a powerful way to connect employees. To build or destroy morale. No, it doesn’t replace everything we’ve done in the past so much as enhances. The biggest brands still spend a lot to rise above the noise. Broadcast still has a place even if it’s reach is diminishing. Direct mail still works (yes, sometimes the snail does a better job getting through – at least the spam filter is manual). But rather than being a separate silo, it’s time to integrate social into your customer service, your support. Your marketing and HR.

Social gives consumers a powerful platform to share their thoughts – and you a powerful platform from which to listen. I’d say the iPhone and iPad have been catalysts taking social to a whole new level by allowing us to connect and share pretty much anywhere anytime.

Rather than just chatting and influencing, I think we’re ready to put these tools to work in more businesses large or small. To make business social again – between people. Almost like it was a 100 years ago. Sterile is rarely going to cut it these days. You gotta find a way to connect in a meaningful way. Yes, social requires some solid skills not everyone has. It’s not easy to be a community manager, for example. But it shouldn’t be it’s own silo. Think cross-functionally. Think purposefully. It’s time for social media to move on. And 2011 oughta be the year.

Comments

  1. Sandra Parrotto says:

    As always Patrick, I appreciate the emotional nature of how you write. I pine for the days when we felt like we were part of a small community. One where we knew each other, could care about each other and support our neighbors when the circumstances of life happened. I have found that kind of feeling on social media, to my utter surprise.

    When you say that social media can, “make business social again – between people. Almost like it was a 100 years ago.” For the first time in 50 years, business people have an opportunity to breakdown hierarchies, and place each employee in a position to interact as an essential member of the organization. Social media is ready to mature, for sure, and cause a true shift for all of us participating in life.

  2. Patrick says:

    Some companies have seen the benefits of social media early on, others, resistant because they were not / are not sure how it fits. And they’re fearful it’ll spin out of their control. It takes a different mindset to be successful, but I’m excited at how it’s changing the dynamics of business. There’s less control over messages and customers have a voice – which can be good and bad. Overall, though, social in concert with our economy and mass customization is making many businesses more personal again – and I like that. You hit it on the head about breaking down hierarchies.

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