Microsoft Word has many stable releases. If you use it today, chances are you are not using a beta copy. It’s stable, functional, and generally predictable.
The printer you use for making hard copies of documents isn’t in beta. It was designed, tested against specs, and shipped. It works as expected.
To me, social media* is in a beta. It isn’t perfect. In fact, it might even be considered alpha. It isn’t prefect. Much of the output is variable, largely because it is dependent on others. Among media-, marketing-, and advertising-types, this concept isn’t new and I’m not making any radical conclusions here. But what’s worth pointing out is that there are executives who expect** (and at times demand) a set of results that are specific and exact.
Yes, this is a measurable channel, but no, it’s not predictable to that degree. Understand that planning and care can go into a concept or an approach (call it a ‘campaign’ if it lets you sleep at night), but also understand that people are fickle. Hit them at the wrong time, place, mood, or during something else (like a 1994 car chase), and your effort can go totally sideways.
If you’re one of those executives who is demanding exacting and specific results from social media: stop. Treat it like a beta. It’s like dropping an egg on the ground and predicting with specificity exactly where the mess will be.
* I know that social interaction has been around since the dawn of time. And media is probably just as old. What I mean here isn’t so much the literal sense. The context to which I refer is more along the lines of digital interactions today on social channels, whether it is B2C or B2B or whatever.
** These are some of the same people who say, “Make us a viral video.”
image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/choconancy/3299024472/
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