Use social media or die…really?

Tweet or die.

There’s a provocative ploy by social media experts, and I use the “experts” term loosely, to declare that companies who ignore social media in their marketing mix will soon be extinct.

While there may be some companies that should be more social-media savvy, there are thousands — millions — that could choose to do nothing for years to come, yet not feel a real pinch financially, let alone risk extinction.

Social media presents a growth opportunity, not yet a need for survival.

Companies will continue to sell and rent uniforms, entry mats, and related textile services with no social media strategy. Electrical supplies will be sold B2B with nary a Twitter account by those supply distributors. Fresh produce will be sold to grocery stores and restaurants. Landscaping services will be offered to consumers and general contractors with no objections due to the lack of an active Facebook page by the landscaper. And don’t get me started on office supplies.

It’s important to differentiate between what businesses “must do” to survive vs. what they “”could do” to gain a competitive advantage. Social media presents an opportunity for businesses in boring, commoditized industries to separate themselves by engaging customers.

Restaurants, plumbers, HVAC sales reps, beverage distributors — these industries aren’t going away tomorrow because of some dramatic technological advancement. And while the companies within them may come and go, it won’t be because they didn’t send out regular tweets. Someone’s going to need to call a plumber 50 years from now. And not everyone in their global circle of followers is going to have a recommendation.

If social media gurus want to maintain credibility in the years to come, being realistic with the marketplace would be a great start. Some day marketing via social media will be the standard. Getting started today is smart. But it’s by no means crucial for everyone.

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