Why The Social Media Doesn’t Work in the Industrial Revolution

It’s a given today that Social Media doesn’t work for many companies. Upon further analysis, it rarely has nothing to do with Social Media… it has to do with marketing and using it as if you were still living in the Industrial Revolution.

Around the turn of the Century we left the Industrial Revolution behind us… some are sad and many are happy. We welcomed in the Internet Revolution with open arms and were anxious to see how the Internet could change our lives for the better. It has in many ways… but it has also brought its own set of issues with it.

The Industrial Revolution was awesome for what it stood for… mass production, innovation in technology relating to computing, new companies entering markets to give us more choices and a whole host of other really great aspects. It also, unfortunately, gave us marketing agencies and firms that adopted the concept of “broadcast messaging, campaigns, mass media, radio advertising, TV advertising, and lots of printed materials.”

These agencies were firmly in control of marketing and tight control over what we were “allowed” to hear/see and what we weren’t. We also had news sources that told us what they felt was important for us to know and we had to go along with it since there wasn’t any other means to validate it unless you were physically there. We, the consumer, were at the mercy of these giants and the messages they wanted us to receive.

Fortunately, the Industrial Revolution has died and this kind of “spray and pray” media that made ad agency executives incredibly rich has died (or is rapidly dying) with it. Social Media, a key component of the Internet Revolution, has essentially taken control away from these dominant groups and given it back to you and me… the customer.

The customer is now firmly in control today and there is no sign we are ever going to give it back. This is a good thing… and a bad thing for companies today.

The good part is we now have “vocal and engaged” customers who have the microphone in their hand and can tell anyone they want what they think. They can share insights to help others learn about your product/service and their experience working with you. This is information we were never exposed to when the agency behemoths had control. We have been “information liberated” with the birth of the Internet Revolution.

The other good part is now we can find anything we ever wanted to know about with just a few clicks on our computers or mobile phones. We have more knowledge at our fingertips than we could ever possibly use in 10 lifetimes. And if we want to purchase something, we can find 50 places (or more) that sell whatever it is we are looking for and even deliver it to us with the same few clicks… no more need to get in the car and drive all over town looking for something. We, as consumers, are empowered and we love it.

The bad part is the noise. Unfortunately, now that we are now in control, have access to all kinds of information and products, and can make choices from hundreds of options, companies are still behaving like they are still living in the Industrial Revolution. Now, more than ever, they continue to blast us with their information (pushing to us). We don’t just see the advertisement in the Sunday paper, we get 50 e-mails telling us to buy it from them because we happened to search on the item and now everyone wants to sell it to us. “Spray and Pray” is still alive and a key strategy for far too many companies today. For them, it didn’t die with the death of the Industrial Revolution.

Companies who still behave (including marketing) as if we are still in the Industrial Revolution are getting no benefit from Social Media. By using the same old techniques the agencies used decades ago… blasting us with enough ads and propaganda in hopes that you will remember them and buy their product or service… they are actually doing the opposite of turning off their audience. They must not have gotten the memo that the Industrial Revolution is over… the customer is in control and can tell us what they want and don’t want. We don’t want to be told what to buy… we can figure this out nicely for ourselves in the Internet Revolution.

The really sad part of this story is that companies use Social Media as simply another “delivery vehicle” for their Industrial Revolution approach. They believe that blasting us with their messages far more frequently and on more channels than they could have ever afforded to do when they paid their agency geeks millions of dollars is still working… it’s NOT. Social Media is FREE… all channels and frequency of messaging is without cost… just the personnel needed to send the blasts. The same “broadcasting, campaigns, advertisements, and propaganda” are still being sent out… only through Social Media channels instead of the radio, TV, newspaper, direct mail, and other traditional sources. It’s not working…

Companies that choose to still live in the Industrial Revolution are finding FAILURE in their use of Social Media. It’s failing because Social Media doesn’t work for companies who are acting the way they did when they were in the Industrial Revolution. It is a tool designed for the Internet Revolution.

When companies use Social Media to HELP THEIR CUSTOMERS improve their lives or business, the content is valued. When they share stories that benefit their customers and customers offer additional comments to add further insight, this is of value… and how Social Media can be a powerful tool for a company. Finding ways to help your customers save more time by interacting with your Social Media and digital channels is of great value. These are the OPPORTUNITIES for companies that live in the Internet Revolution and have left the Industrial Revolution behind.

Which Revolution is your company participating in today? When you analyze your marketing activities, are you communicating like you still live in the Industrial Revolution by “spraying and praying” or are you “helping” your customers improve their lives? Do the analysis… see which Revolution you are actually living in today and you might have just solved the mystery as to why Social Media isn’t working as well as you were hoping. It works when you help… not when you sell.