Remember CRM? The idea was you would try and get together everything you know about your customers so you could better guess their needs. Yes, it was a lot of work. Ah, let’s just rely on an external provider to do it for us. In fact we won’t even have a contract with this company and we will let employees and customers do pretty well whatever they like on it. It’s called LinkedIn, Facebook or whatever else comes along, gets bought out or changes its technology at a whim.
Yep, that will work just fine.
Not! Social media platforms are just that. Somebody else’s platform for your information. How many kids you have and where you went on holiday used to be something that expert salespeople got out of you over fancy dinners. Now you just give it away for nothing. And, worse still, that supplier of yours who used to care, now has no access to the information. He has to pay this social media platform for “intelligence”. That is if the little startup in Callifornia has some way of getting to him. For the most part, awesome masses of useful information is simply going wasted. It is like trying to guess what “the market” is feeling based on the heavily censored information Google AdWords gives you about search queries.
Remember how everyone was in a panic to have a “fully updated” company website? They got excited about who would put up something new everyday, they rallied up support from various company departments. Now they pay an advertising agency to write stupid one liners on the company facebook page… The discussion went from what sort of database can best manage the company information to… “here is a funny video about a baby that hit his data with a frying pan – have a nice weekend!”
The scary thing is that even well seasoned managers seem to have been thrown off balance by the sudden change. At first they treated it as just the latest fad from the marketing department. Then they started worrying they are missing the boat. Then they got an iPhone and a Facebook account and got hooked. Now they are blubbering idiots who think they will conquer the world based on a social media feature which might not even be around next week.
I am beginning to feel like a family doctor. Somewhere between their advertising agency, IT department, PR people, internal sales and marketing resources, someone has to remind companies of targets, ROI and mission.