McIntosh: ad agencies "mislead" on social media
Ewan McIntosh is one of the most inspirational and interesting people I've met who is working with social media. He is pioneering the use of social media in Scottish education system and beginning to talk about his thoughts on its application in business too.
There's a particularly interesting interview with him on Shel Israel's Global Neighbourhood's blog in which - among other things - he touches on the danger of false marketing prophets:
There are, unfortunately, a lot of ad agencies and individuals who aren't really using social media themselves on a daily basis, who mislead companies and organizations as to what this might bring them. That is, they're busy promising short term gains when the reality is something more like two years for any tangibles to kick in.
There's something about the two year timescale that rings true - that's been the kind of commitment Jim and I recommend people look at when starting on a Social Spaces programme at Spannerworks, Engagement is something to commit to - not just throw some content at.
I think that engagement with social media begins at the moment you begin listening to your networks and that the tangible benefits are there right away: learning, improvements to the way content and communications are managed, shifts in the way marketing is thought about. But he's right: the biggest benefits will accrue, will be incremental - perhaps exponential - the longer that you are listening, responding, growing, evolving. \
The important thing that Ewan is saying, and that I utterly agree, with is that organisations need to commit to programmes in social media for what many marketers would think of as the long term. It's not about launching a blog or a forum and you're done, it's about changing the way you think about the world and the people that are connected to you.
That's a challenge for an industry set up around quarterly and annual blocks of campaign timescales and budgets. Some say a Chief Marketing Officer's average time in the job is 18 months these days: hard to commit to the long term when you only have a year and a half to make your mark... but that is most definitely what's required.
Marketing campaigns that have been designed with a channel media-minded traditional approach are front-loaded, big-bang grabs for attention. They are back-to-front when you apply the same approach to engaging with social media and online networks: activity will build and grow as an organisation brand learns more about its online networks and responds with new content and ways of communicating.
: : Do read the rest of Ewan's interview if you can. I've jumped off on just one point here, but his insights into online learning, social media generally, and the way young people are using social computing tools are deeply compelling.