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Social Media– The Darwin Doom: Evolve, invest… or die.

It is happening. Campaigns with a heavy social media component, start driving a lot of traction. From The Hunger Games, Twilight, Star Wars, and the British Imperial War Museum to a growing number of brands; it looks like social media can claim a growing part of driving the needle.  But what most are forgetting while looking at the award winning entrees or the mind boggling engagement figures is something disturbingly simple: it is not magic. It is hard work.

Social media success, and its golden unicorn “going viral”, is not based on luck, on a throw of the dice, or on a beneficial line up of some obscure stars and planetary constellations. It is based on careful planning, iron metrics, dazzling creativity, and a perfect understanding of the sociologic –and technical semantics of the social web.

It requires hybrid people capable to find seamless interaction between on- and offline components of a campaign, it requires access to influencers and amplifiers who can give the initiative enough boost to give it enough velocity. It requires specialized analytical brains to sift through data, and to translate these figures into actionable intelligence.  It requires people ahead of the curve.

Success does not happen overnight, it’s not based on luck. As with most pieces of a business, success is directly linked to skill, empowerment and passion.  Brands and agencies capable of harnessing the best talent, and setting up a suitable multi-lingual cross border operational structure see their initial investment returned in tangible results.  It starts with investment, it ends with the harvest. As every farmer knows: What you do not sow, you cannot reap

All too often, the wishful thinking is that social media can be bolted on as an afterthought. Reality is that it is a hard fought métier, requiring deep empathetic skills, innovative thinking and an uncanny ability to spot the right touch points within the target audience.

Olivier Blanchard (@thebrandbuilder)wrote all you’ll ever need to know on the possibilities to drive real ROI through social media in his book Social Media ROI. But before the cash machines will spit mountains of 4 digit bills, before sales will skyrock, before reputations will turn around… investments will have to be made in the very bone structures of brands and agencies. Going to war without modifying your army profoundly, without new weapon systems, without strategic experts that have inside knowledge on how the other side operates, you’re in for a certain Waterloo.

The first prize is a fancy car (well, a hybrid one with limited impact on the environment that is), the second prize is a set of steak knives. The third prize is simple: you’re out of business.  Darwin was right: evolve, or die…

 

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