Social Media: Need vs. Demand

Bob Michaels

Posted On December 28, 2011

At a recent seminar I attended in Atlanta, the conversation revolved around business use of social media. The predominant question was, “Do you need it or does the market demand it?” Frequently I hear business executives say they need to get into social media, mostly because they hear a lot about it and feel they are missing out in some way. Then the discussion flows. What does it cost? Who will do it? What is the ROI? Do my customers even care about social media?

When executives say “need” it is frequently an internal request based on a variety of assumptions which may or may not be accurate. Advertisers say they need a new brochure or website without first checking to see how, or if, the tools are being used by their employees and without considering how, or if, the consumer will use it. Maybe your customer wants to get information on-line and doesn’t want a brochure. Maybe they prefer to get the information on a smart phone instead of a computer. For many, mobile access is their first or only point of access to the internet.

Whether it is a new sales brochure, social media presence or a specific advertising campaign, we must be certain that the audience “demands” it. Otherwise, we are wasting valuable resources trying to push a rope up hill. Before we write a plan, we need to know everything there is to know about our customers, their preferences and how they communicate. Not every marketing tool is appropriate for every business situation and every customer.

After due diligence, if you cannot find a demand for what you are proposing, you have two basic options: mutate the proposal to meet customer demands or create a demand for what you are proposing. In either case, the approach you take will not be based on your perceived need, but on the customer’s demands, even if you need to help them see it.