I Googled “Hype” and Got “Twitter”

By Patrick Boegel, Director of Media Integration, Media Logic

I “Googled” the word ‘hype’ and all I got was this idea for a blog post.  Someone can go ahead and print that on a t-shirt and sell it on Café Press.

But seriously, if you type ‘hype’ into the world leader of lazy serendipity you might be surprised what the search engine determines are the most relevant results.  To a certain extent you might hope to find a coherent set of definitions and examples as to what makes ‘hype’, but instead you get a lot of brands that are self-labeled “hype”, and a lot of digital retailers’ selling ‘hype’ via Google’s Adwords program.

Ironic? Maybe; in an Alanis Morrisette kind of way.

You will also see, at least until the next algorithm rolls out, tucked neatly at the bottom are “searches related to: hype”.  Any guess at the two answers at the time of my writing this blog post?

If you guessed Twitter and Facebook, you win!

For better or worse these two social networking platforms are synonymous with the freight train that is social media.  Whether you are pro-social networking or anti-social networking, there is no denying we are in the midst of hype regarding its impact and about the individual platforms and services that are part of the space. Getting past the hype to practical implementation is proving to be a daunting task for those who struggle to see the point.

In my work with Media Logic, the number one topic clients ask about social media is related to ROI – return on investment.

Where is the ROI?  What is the ROI?  Is ROI possible?

I hear the ROI in social is tremendous; can you confirm?

The answer is that ROI is absolutely possible and it certainly can be tremendous; but don’t expect to buy a software platform that implements a fool-proof solution.

The “where” and “what” almost always come from defensive posturing by an entrenched old guard media that is struggling to rationalize why its brand is relevant in a social media-driven world. Wrestling with the hype and a desire to have a prefabricated outcome are the biggest obstacles we face in practical implementation of social media as part of an audience development/outreach strategy.

If we are to get past the hype, we are going to need to agree on two key principles.

First, there is not going to be an off the assembly line solution for the challenge social media presents for your business. No matter how many copies of Crush It Gary Vaynerchuk sells, we need to face some facts: passion and effort will only take our ideas so far, and most of us are probably not selling wine.

We are going to need to think really hard about what excites our customers, what used to excite our customers and what might excite them in the near future.

I’d caution not to look too far forward, either; the evolution of the media landscape demands that you live in the moment and not be permanently anchored anywhere.

This brings us to the second key principle. Reaching people – and I mean really reaching them, not yelling at them with rampant inefficiency – always has taken work; hard work that doesn’t end.  The very technologies we deploy are going to make the task of gaining share of mind and generating quality engagement increasingly more difficult.

As challenged as traditional media is at the moment, while the whole world may seemingly be abuzz about Twitter and Facebook, the whole world is not active on either platform. The same way you can’t reach everyone you need to speak to with one print ad or one radio spot; you can’t touch all your potential audience via social networking alone.

This is not some cheap scare tactic to get everyone to stop dreaming up social networking solutions for their respective businesses, but a caution to be keenly aware that, as a standalone option, it is limited.

I am big on the term integration because it espouses the fundamental notion that things can successfully coexist, versus battling for dominance.  I believe right now, far too many individuals and institutions, out of some combination of fear and passion, are making uninformed decisions that will have long-lasting, negative repercussions.

Your current approach likely does not need to be utterly abandoned and reborn, but could surely use some refreshing and enhancements to course-correct rationally. Social media integration strategies can do both of those things quite effectively.

If, however, you must go all in on the “hype”, may you end up like the endless rabble who have been “coached” by charlatans to tweet quotes of famous dead folks as if that was profound, inspiring or vaguely unique.

Out of curiosity, I also “Googled” the word ‘rational’, and the results were more, well, rational.  Nothing ironic about them, and perhaps sadly no one seems to think that keyword is worth buying to garner leads.

At some point it would be nice, or at very least helpful, to see in related searches: ‘rational implementation of social media’.  In the meantime, we could hype the idea as being the next phase of social media evolution.

I am kidding, a little.

Patrick Boegel is the Director of Media Integration for Media Logic in Albany New York. He is responsible for the development of strategic media solutions for clients in the fields of Higher Education, Healthcare, Financial Services and a wide array of Business to Business industries.

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