Over the weekend, I listened to the dynamic Nikki Sunstrum, social media director at the University of Michigan who truly knows her stuff. She was a bit tough in her delivery but offered tons of great information about the state of social media today and how we should be using it.
Except one thing sort of left me wondering.
She was talking about Snapchat and making the point that because 18-24 year olds are on Snapchat, so must the university be – that’s their target audience and it’s where they need to be today.
Because it’s there, and it’s what people are embracing, the organizations must embrace it.
I can see her point. I can also see the other side. And here’s where I’m going to sound like an old-fogey fuddy-duddy.
Just because Snapchat is all the rage today, does that mean we have to embrace it? Is this about being where the marketplace is and adopting all manner of technology just because everyone else is?
Or is it about making educated decisions about what will serve each organization best and most appropriately for their goals, purpose and audience?
She makes a great point that the University of Michigan should embrace Snapchat and I am more than impressed with how her leadership has made that happen.
But I’m not going to embrace Snapchat unless it’s to monitor my kids on it. Because my audience could care less. They’re not there.
There’s a more prescient point in this conversation that is bigger, more all-encompassing, and that is this: we must be careful to smartly embrace marketing trends because they are compelling and achieve our goals and NOT because everyone’s doing it.
I’ve never been a follow-the-crowd type of person and at 43 years old, I’m not about to start. If it works for you, great. Doesn’t mean it will resonate with me one bit.
The social media craze is, at its core, about following the crowd. Literally. It’s about doing what everyone else is doing – not because it serves you and your purpose but because you don’t want to be left out.
My brother, a successful attorney with friends and colleagues across the country, has never jumped on Facebook. And his life, and career, have sailed along just fine without it. Kudos. That’s a strong person resisting the urge to follow-the-crowd.
Truth be told, the only time I feel competitive or insecure in business is when I spend too much time scrolling through my Facebook feed. It’s stupid, I know, but I am amazed when I see my reactions. Sitting alone behind my computer screen or smartphone, the stories start to unfold in my head based on the snippet I glimpse on FB.
That’s all. No nuance, no depth, no extended conversation to understand the full picture. Just one little post and it sets off tremors.
The real work happens when people interact. We can and should use social media for marketing and public relations in smart and innovative ways.
But we can never abandon good old-fashioned human-to-human connection. Looking into the eyes of another (not their Photoshopped eyes in a picture on Twitter) gives you an unparalleled window into their soul, as they gaze into yours.
Any business that has hope of enduring the long haul must remember the ever-important and timeless art to connecting with one another. That will never die nor cease to be important.
So spend all the time you deem necessary snapping and vining and tweeting, just don’t let it overtake you. Don’t do it because it’s there and everyone else is.
Do it because it fulfills your mission and it’s the right place for you and your organization to be. No more. No less. The simple fact of the right fit.
And integrate those efforts with handshakes, smiles, eye contact, heart-to-heart revelation. That’s true marketing that wins loyal customers. For life.