Brian Solis Engages with Vocus
“Social media is growing in prominence on a daily basis, and I believe that theconsequence of not engaging, or not even listening, is, unfortunately, the beginningof the end.”– Brian Solis
Three years ago, Brian Solis wrote the warning: “Engage or die” in The Social Media Manifesto,a rallying cry he was publishing to urge businesses to engage with their public online. Theprincipal of Silicon Valley new media ﬁrm FutureWorks was simply ‘in the moment’, as he putsit – but the term has come to sum up the scene across the landscape of PR, advertising, andmarketing as organizations scramble to come to terms with the openness and transparency thatsocial media marketing demands.“The term seems to have taken on its own life,” smiles Solis. “It wasn’t necessarily intended asa dire warning. But what it does mean is that conversations and evolution are taking place withor without you. And you have a choice to make.”Vocus has caught up with Solis at its Users Conference, where his Engage or Die keynotespeech has just gone down a storm. His message to businesses and organizations is that notengaging with their public – and failing to listen to what the public is saying about them –isolates them to an extent that they’re in danger of losing their relevance altogether. As moreand more consumers turn to social media to make their buying decisions, the need to adaptbecomes more critical by the day. Engage or die, in other words.“The question is,” says Solis, “can you afford not to participate? Can you afford to be absentfrom the decision-making process? Can you afford to give up market share to your competitors?Social media is growing in prominence on a daily basis, and I believe that the consequence ofnot engaging and adapting, or not even listening, is, unfortunately, the beginning of the end.And I think it also removes the inspiration for starting or running a business. If you don’t learn,if you don’t listen to people, if you don’t adapt, if you don’t engage, then you lose the ability toearn mindshare or share of voice.”It’s a convincing argument. So why are many businesses still lagging in the social media sphere?Solis believes it comes from a misunderstanding of the dynamic of social media, and a fear ofrelinquishing control.“Social media is not just a technology: it’s a movement,” he explains. “It’s permeating businessfrom the outside in and the bottom up. Usually, technology, innovation, strategies and processesare introduced from the top down. Social media, however, is driven from the outside – by youand me.“What management tries to do with social media is analyze its importance, its meaning, itsimpact - in order to bring it back to the top down, but without personal experience. The issueis the willingness and ability of a company to change, and also the levels of management’swillingness to at least research or embrace what social media offers or what it promises, inorder to start experimenting or piloting a program that gives it some semblance of control orunderstanding so that they can then introduce this from a top-down process.”Solis has a great deal of experience in overcoming reluctance to engage online. His ﬁrmFutureWorks specializes in social media consulting and counts brands including Cisco, Conde
The author of Engage! and principalof FutureWorks reveals how an expertovercomes some of the obstacleswe face in driving social mediawithin organizations, and why awell-executed social media strategyinvolves far more than just setting upa Twitter account.