I hope you’re still with me and please let me explain.

Like many of us, I live in an always on, hyper-connected, socially engaging, linking, tweeting, statusing, emailing, automating, filtering, searching, blogging, podcasting, video’ing world that accelerates geometrically each few months. In this world it’s hard to remember that most businesses are still NOT doing much of the above as part of an overall web strategy.

If I meet with 100 businesses over the next week, I’ll find that 50 are “experimenting” with some of the above and perhaps 1 or 2 are strategically using over 50% of the tools to become “a socially findable and recommendable” business. The balance are still stuck with their old brochure site that hasn’t been updated in 3 years because “The girl who built my site for free to start her design career went to work somewhere and we don’t even have the passwords to change things if we wanted to.” (I’ve spoken to 2 businesses doing a combined $45 million in the last 2 weeks in this exact scenario)

It’s ironic that if asked, every one of the businesses in my survey would say the first place they…and their target customers look for information on people, products, places, and services is the web or more specifically, “They Google It”. Yet…when asked if Internet Marketing as a real part of their marketing strategy…vs. simply playing with the tools in an ad hoc manner…nearly all say no.

In most cases, companies are merely bolting on more features to a broken platform…like putting a fresh coat of paint on a rotting structure. There may be some benefit…but ultimately the structure is shaky. This is why social media as a stand alone practice is not the recipe I’d like to see being cooked in most business kitchens.

Can a company see great result with the bolt on approach. Yes. But most will not reach anywhere near their ultimate potential without an integrated web strategy for their companies. I’ve seen the examples like you have of the pizza place or the retail store seeing more traffic by advertising/sharing/connecting on Twitter. Some businesses are more suited to this strategy agreed.

I believe however that the term and practice of “Interactive” or “Social” Marketing is far more relevant and representative of reality. So for me…”Social Media” as a term and practice sleeps with the fishes. To get transformative results, it’s best to take a holistic approach that encompasses the client’s:

  1. Website platform
  2. Business methodologies
  3. Definition of Conversion (call,click,buy,submit information)
  4. User interface
  5. Email marketing
  6. Local search
  7. Local business listing
  8. Social findability and organic placement
  9. Online brand (employees and company)
  10. Target markets
  11. Metrics for success
  12. Commitment level from the top down
  13. Desired keywords and long tail hyper targeted keyword opportunities
  14. Ability of the company to execute on a strategy period…from a human resource standpoint (the NUMBER ONE reason we see failure in the online world is the skewed perception that these tools can just be added to Jimmie in marketing’s role “because after all he’s young and gets this stuff.”) Who’s responsibility is this and what are the metrics of success?

As with other tools (like blogging a few years back) Social Media converts and luminaries get sweaty and preach Gospel on the street corner and proclaim the arrival of the savior (aka Twitter)…but as a disciplined professional you know that without a comprehensive Interactive Marketing strategy behind your efforts that social media is….well….social. It is possible and desirable to state loudly and proudly that you’d like social tools to become transactional and that’s where most companies and consultants don’t execute.