In Michael Pollan‘s books, like The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Botany of Desire, Pollan warns about monocultures. In agriculture, monocultures are systems where a single crop is raised. The upsides are large harvests, automation and minimal labor costs–the modern industrialized farm. The downside is higher incidents of disease and generally just an unhealthy ecosystem. Healthier and better for the land (and the people consuming the food) are polycultures, where diverse, multiple crops are grown. The same is true in marketing.
With the extreme emphasis on social media marketing today, you might think that modern marketing is a monoculture. That if you’re doing social, you’re doing marketing. True, the way we communicate, consume, share and create content is vastly different that just a few years ago. But ignore a holistic and strategic marketing polyculture for a social media monoculture and you risk the disease and ultimately the death of your brand.
Advertising is not dead. A recent post by the Ad Contrarian does a better job of flogging that notion that I ever could. There’s no doubt marketing is changing, but if you were around as the web became ubiquitous you witnessed a similar phenomenon: marketers prognosticating on the death of traditional marketing at the hands of the Internet. It didn’t happen. It’s not going to happen with social media either. Social has brought about new marketing tactics that you can’t afford to ignore, but strike a balance.
At OMMAGlobal in San Francisco last month, Laura Lang, CEO of Digitas talked about how social media is not new. We’ve always been social; social media is just the web finally catching up with life. Amen, sister.
According to recent polls, posts and articles, the majority of CMOs plan to increase their spending on social media marketing this year. Before you follow suit,talk to someone with some perspective first. Get some insight. Above all else, think polyculture, not monoculture.