Get Integrated, Move Faster – and Stop Saying Social Media!

February 27, 2024

Social media is one of the primary ways in which people communicate today.

But social media is so over.

That was the message from Anuj Nayar, a veteran communications and branding consultant who’s currently working with Mozilla and has led PR and communications at PayPal and Apple.

Nayar was one of three panelists – along with LendingClub Director of Communications Alia Dudum and Bospar Principal Curtis Sparrer – on Bospar’s most recent Press Play webinar.

‘Social Media’ is Over, and X Does Not Mark the Spot

The term “social media” should go the way of the dinosaur in Nayar’s estimation. The social media manager concept emerged around Twitter’s birth in 2006, he said, almost 20 years ago!

“Now, nobody cares about Twitter. X! Nobody cares about X,” Nayar continued. “All the corporations are moving away from it. But there are new channels that are coming onboard.”

“Thinking about this structurally – as this is your social media strategy, this is your media strategy versus your direct-to-consumer strategy versus your influencer strategy – is so outdated,” Nayar said. “It’s about: What do you think? What is the business trying to achieve? And what is the best mix of channels…to get the message out to those particular audiences?”

It’s About Your Objective, Not Getting on TikTok

Companies should start by identifying their objective, creating a strategy, and then identifying what channels will enable them to bring those objectives and strategies to life, Dudum said.

Nayar agreed, adding that rather than jumping on the latest trends, businesses should be intentional with how and where they communicate. “Do you remember a couple of years ago? Suddenly, every company was ‘We need a TikTok strategy’” he said. “Do you need a TikTok strategy? Are your customers on TikTok? Is that the right channel to get to them? I don’t know.”

“You have to go back to the beginning and think: Is that exactly what you want to be doing and then build from there,” he added. “It could be social media. It could be newsletters. It could be podcasts. What is the way that your customers are going to receive that message?”

Don’t Be Like Ships Passing in the Night, Get Aligned

Many PR agencies and in-house marketing and communications teams have siloed organizations and segmented strategies for different media that keeps them disconnected from one another, and from greater success and speed in how they can use communications to their advantage.

“There are times when I’m dealing with companies and everything’s siloed like ships passing in the night,” said Sparrer. “Someone does something great on LinkedIn, for example, or sees something on LinkedIn and doesn’t tell anyone. Then we have to say ‘Wait! What was that?’”

Taking an integrated approach empowers companies to avoid such missed opportunities and to align on activating messages and PR campaigns where they are most likely to work best.

“A message might be better on LinkedIn than Instagram, for example,” said Sparrer. “But you still need to be having the big picture in your head and then moving the chess pieces accordingly.”

Dudum probably said it best: “Forward-thinking companies that really integrate social media with the overall business strategy are most successful. It should be embedded within the communication and marketing, so you are closely aligned on how to communicate this broadly.”

AI Could Lead to Even More Beige, Bland and Undifferentiated Messages

Engaging audiences and creating an authentic sense of community is a far more effective communications and marketing strategy than trying to manufacture it, said Dudum.

“You can’t put out an unauthentic message; it just doesn’t land these days,” concurred Nayar. “And you will be taken by the trolls through all kinds of pain if you try to do that.”

If you can swap out your name with your competitor’s name in your messaging and it still sounds relevant, you haven’t done the work to identify your true differentiator, he added.

Artificial intelligence will only exacerbate these kinds of problems, Sparrer said. “I am seeing a lot of AI content seep into various channels,” Sparrer added. “It’s all seeming very milquetoast, very beige and bland. As marketers, we’re going to have to grapple with what that means and how we work with it – and how we also work against it – because it’s a double-edge sword.”

The Winning Stanley Cup Strategy Is a Colorful Example of What Works

Companies no longer own brands. Now users own the brands. And that’s a massive change.

Stanley Mania, during which consumers snapped up colorful tumblers at a rapid rate from the old-timey brand Stanley, provided further evidence of this significant trend. And when Stanley realized its insulated cups were trending on social media, it moved quickly and decisively.

“Stanley did a great job of ‘Oh my god, this is a market that isn’t 50-year-old males going out camping for the weekend. This is everyday teens and tweens going ‘I love this thing. I now have four of them,’” said Nayar. “That could’ve stayed as a little marketing thing, but they embraced it and said ‘This is a market we haven’t even touched. Get the new colors, get the whole thing!’”

The Quencher from Stanley was a top Christmas gift for tweens and teens last holiday season. That is a phenomenon that came from the users, Nayar said, but Stanley didn’t just keep it within its marketing or communication department. Someone took it back to the business and created products specifically for those new customers. Nayar said that’s one of the best recent examples of a business taking something that happened in the social world back to product development.

“People think ‘Oh, we need to get an influencer,’” Dudum said. “But having it be really organic like that can really create moments for a company. And having somebody at the C-level who’s able to identify that and build that into the strategy is really, really key.”

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About the author

Paula Bernier is chief content officer at Bospar PR. She has more than 25 years of experience writing and editing for tech trade outlets, including Inter@ctive Week. Bernier is known for her ability to quickly produce compelling content on a wide range of business and technical topics. Areas of specialization include AI, cybersecurity and networking.