Last week, I spoke to the Pettis County Management Association (PCMA) in Sedalia, Missouri. We discussed new media marketing, and particularly search engine and social media marketing. They were an involved group, jumping right in with questions and comments; which made for a fun presentation. My big take-away from the evening was their receptive attitude toward social media’s capacity to drive business; their business.
For starters, understand that most of their companies don’t market direct to the consumer (the “low hanging fruit” of social media). Instead, I was primarily speaking with management personnel from manufacturers, distributors, local government and economic development agencies. Only a few attendees were involved directly in sales or marketing. Yet, they definitely got it. Over the course of 90 minutes, not once did I hear “this couldn’t benefit my company.” Certainly, not every company will receive the same types of benefit from a social media presence, and they clearly knew better than that. But they still got it.
They “got it” because they live it. Even just one year ago, my presentation would have required a great deal of education; the basics of Facebook, for example. But last week, in this West-Central Missouri room of mid-managers, I didn’t need to do that. They were already a part of the social media generation.
Though they weren’t all heavily invested in social media on a personal level, they understand that in just a few short years the world has changed and there’s no turning back. Tweeting, Facebook updates, YouTube videos, iPhones and iPads were all familiar topics. They all understood the power of Amazon product reviews, for example. There was an understanding that a teenage son or daughter will answer a text message before they’ll answer the phone. It’s a fairly short leap from understanding those interactions, to being able to recognize this major shift in marketing.
They didn’t take time to argue the virtues (or lacking virtues) of social media. Instead, they went directly to processing how social media can and will impact their organizations:
- Driving sales
- Encouraging feedback
- Enhancing customer service
Of course, we also discussed issues like privacy; allowing social network access from work, and company policies related to an employee’s online actions. It was telling that several in the group expressed an opinion that disallowing social media via a firewall at the workplace was dangerous in multiple ways, and might even cause problems down the road in attracting and retaining the highest-quality employees. When these comments came about, no one shot back in disagreement (which caught me by surprise, honestly).
It may be true that the Midwest lags behind the coasts in terms of everything from technology to fashion, but if the response of this group of Sedalia, Missouri managers is any indication, the Midwest is tackling social media.