Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Ilana Rabinowitz, Vice-President of Marketing for Lion Brand Yarn Company.

I have a friend who is an investment advisor. In 2005, he was talking to the man painting his house. The painter told him that he was going start investing in real estate because so many people he knew had made money flipping houses. That was my friend’s economic indicator that the housing bubble was about to burst. At the time, people thought he was crazy. But, his point was, that when people who have no understanding or interest in something start to jump in just because everyone else is doing it, take note of a possible bubble.

Last week, someone asked me if I could explain how he could build his business using Facebook After listening for about 15 minutes, I realized that there was no benefit for this particular business to be involved on Facebook. The fact that he felt it was compulsory, made me think of the painter. I did suggest a number of marketing ideas that made sense, including some forms of social media, but I was reminded of that urge to jump in to something that “so many people were crowing about” to avoid missing the boat.

A painter painting a room in a house
Image via Wikipedia

In the aftermath of this craze, Facebook pages and Twitter handles will be abandoned like houses that are worth less than the mortgage on them. Those flash-in-the-pan social media experts, trying to take advantage of a hot area of marketing that they don’t understand will disappear.

I am not saying that social media is going away. It is valuable and will continue to be a valuable tool for companies who figure out how it can work for them. The crazy part will die down and this relatively new set of marketing tools will take their place in the marketing mix. Those who do it right and for the right reasons, will remain. Social media has enabled us to connect with more people both personally and professionally. It has enabled brands to build a certain level of relationship with individuals, and this has changed the face of marketing.

So, what happens next?

The next step, I think, is going to really knock peoples’ socks off. It will be a greater appreciation of the intimacy, the magic, and the power of face-to-face relationships. These will be enabled by social media. We already see the growth of web enabled meet-ups and tweet-ups and the 4-millionth member on FourSquare. We see a proliferation of conferences and every week I get an e-vite to some charity or networking or vendor-related event at a restaurant, someone’s home, or another real life, “between four walls” event where you need to put on a decent pair of shoes and get away from your computer.

Neuroscientists have shown that there is an innate and evolutionary need for social interaction. People benefit from social media but require physical contact in real places. When people come together and talk about ideas, bigger things can happen than what happens when one person is sitting in a room ruminating or having a conversation that is missing the physical presence of another human being. Over 70% of in-person communication is non-verbal. The body language, the tone of voice, the setting, the clothing, the way a person looks at you – is all information that can only be transmitted in one setting.

I recently returned from the Inbound Marketing Summit. The entire conference was livestreamed, yet I flew to Boston and trekked out to Foxboro so I could be there and experience the energy of direct contact with the likes of David Meerman Scott, Chris Brogan, C.C. Chapman and others. A conversation I had with someone while I was in line at the buffet table gave me valuable insight into one person’s experience with a vendor I am considering.

The fact is that human beings are designed to connect with other people; that’s what we do best, and that’s when we do our best. Connecting through the Internet is a surrogate when the option might be not to connect at all. Social media is going to facilitate, enable and enhance something brand-new and age old: direct human contact.

Businesses need to use all of the marketing tools at their disposal to connect with consumers in real life through ambassadors and events. Brick-and-mortar retail stores, ironically, some of the most Internet-challenged businesses, have the greatest opportunity to use the power of the personal experience to build their business.

The future of social media? Real life.

Editor’s Note: We will feature occasional guest posts from smart peeps from time to time. This is one from one, namely Ilana Rabinowitz, Vice-President of Marketing for Lion Brand Yarn Company.

Ilana RabinowitzRabinowitz approaches marketing with an uncompromising focus on the customer and a grounding in psychology and neuroscience to understand what motivates people to make buying decisions.  She believes that businesses need to develop their own media as a means of creating a branded experience for customers.  She has spoken at digital marketing conferences including Web 2.0, Blogher Business and Internet Retailer. She is the author of a book about psychology, a book about mindfulness and co-author of a book about the culture of knitting.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Sherrilynne

    I enjoyed reading this post and have to say I agree. Social media are great tools to facilitate relationships. But the best, most productive relationships are usually cemented in the real world.

  • GregBogdan

    Jason, excellent post! As a big box lead gen B2B online marketer I've come to realize that one of the most important things that we can do is create a reason for a customer to engage in face time or at least phone time with us.

  • http://www.skypulsemedia.com/ Howie at Sky Pulse Media

    Great post! I agree. Facebook really isn't built for Brands, especially Big Ones. I view FB and Twitter as Operating Systems with Humans creating the Networks. The problem is Facebook chose a Ad Supported Business Model, like Yahoo (worst choice possible), when they are a Technology Company like Microsoft or Apple. They should be selling and licensing the technology so other companies can integrate into their own business and marketing processes to improve communications.

    Social Media is people to people and its blossoming, but in 5 years we will look back and think Wow..I used to spend time on Facebook?

    BTW I have studied the Fan Pages for major brands and due to the high volume of the live feed, its impossible to get your posts seen. I see engagement rates of 0.05% and under of total fans. And it is not scaled to handle conversing with 1 million consumers never mind 1,000.

    Soon the hype will burst and we will get down to business. And Social Media tools offer a wide array of options for businesses, but to believe the Facebook hype because the company and the 'hucksters' sold their soul betting the Farmville….good luck.

    • http://twitter.com/011bojan Bojan Djordjevic

      You got it all wrong, fanpages are small portion of it. Social media is about friends sharing relevant content and my newsfeed gets flooded with it.

      Best example of it, is when YouTube clip goes viral… Check out the sources of traffic of major bloggers and ask them, where is it coming from? I will give you a hint, it's not Google.

      • http://www.skypulsemedia.com/ Howie at Sky Pulse Media

        My point was Facebook is not scalable. It has pitiful engagement numbers. And isn't really a place for big brands to market. It will never move the sales needle trust me. But that didn't mean Social Media is not viable. I just don't see it replacing traditional advertising for many years. Today almost everyone in the US is going to watch TV. But only less than 1 in 5 will log into Facebook.

        Facebook is not Viral like You Tube. In fact only 53mil people world wide watched a Facebook video last month. And each user averages only 0.46 videos per month. Even You Tube is very low. I forgot but it came out to about 2% of daily video time watched. And while 10 mil views might be nice (and free) I can get 10 mil views on a hit show at once.

    • Ilana Rabinowitz

      Thanks for your comment. While I don't think that Facebook is for every business, I do think that it is appropriate for many. Big brands often have problems executing Facebook effectively because they are still using it as a promotional vehicle, speaking in corporate voices and not actually conversing with customers. Social media is a spectacular way for businesses to create relationships, build their brand, learn about their customers and even generate revenue. As traditional advertising declines in effectiveness, social media offers an appropriate way for brands to get the attention of consumers.

  • http://twitter.com/011bojan Bojan Djordjevic

    Great article, but this social media hype will last for quite a while still…

    • Ilana Rabinowitz

      I agree with you, but it won't be that long because everything is accelerated online.

  • http://www.hightouchweb.com HighTouch

    Llana, you bring a great point. I talk to clients now that have “missed” the boat so to speak.. they are still trying to figure out the social media connection. I think now if people are still trying to “figure it out”, they may have been to late to hit that bubble. I have noticed more video conferencing and online events that bring people together. I do still enjoy going to meet people, sometimes, but in this world of technology you can do it from your desk. I like both worlds. When I am trying to pitch something or sale something, I do much better in person. I am one of those people that like to read the body and facial expressions to see if what I am doing is working. I think when we learn to make the online and in person play nicely together we will have the best of both worlds.

  • http://www.mikepedersen.com Mike Pedersen

    Ilana,

    I really respect your ethics to tell that client that it really didn't make sense. And, I believe that there will be hundreds, if not thousands of the so-called social media experts that will be gone in the next year or so. They are trying to capitalize on the buzz, but truly don't have the passion or the wherewithal to stay with it long-term.

    Great post.

    Mike

    • Ilana Rabinowitz

      Mike,

      Thanks for your comment. Just to be clear, it was free advice to a friend. All the more reason to give the best possible advice.

      Social media requires us to think in a less corporate way and a more human way. In the same way that not everyone would belong to a country club or a bridge club or some other social group, not every brand will get the best result from being on a particular social platform like Facebook or Twitter. I totally agree that those who don't have their heart in this–whether they are agencies, brands or consultants will get eliminated.

  • http://www.realwebmarket.com Pradeep – SEO LinkBuilder

    I would agree with you in the context you had explained things about the painter-real estate stuff. But I think this is just one side, how marketing can turn to get real benefits by contacting with the real world rather on social networks. Because, when you want to meet audience out of your area/region, you should definitely rely on network marketing. Now a days we have got plenty of resources to show the credibility of our products via online in the form of videos/text testimonials. Because reliability is one of the basic factors to bring costumers to your business, you can use online communities or any online promotional methods to get credibility. What say?

    • Ilana Rabinowitz

      Pradeep,

      While recognizing some limits of digital marketing, I also appreciate the power and reach of it compared to face to face marketing. You could say that digital is wide, and face-to-face is deep and each type of marketing pushes and builds on the other. Facebook, blogs, YouTube and other forms of social media take traditional direct marketing to a deeper level and engage consumers in ways that were not possible before. I'm just reminding people who are probably very rightly experiencing a high from the effects of using social media not to forget the fact that real life is part of the mix–and to find ways of connecting in the real world with even a fraction of your online audience, even a fraction of the time.

  • http://brittanydarwell.wordpress.com Brittany

    All good points. I very much agree. The potential for social media to blend our online and offline interactions is really interesting, and I think will overall benefit the consumer. Now if marketers would realize social media strategy isn't just flipping traditional campaigns over to new online platforms… We have to think differently. We have to think consumer first.

  • http://twitter.com/kregobiz Kerry Rego

    Very well put. Social media is not magic. The magic is in the person.

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