More and more organizations are using social media for marketing and in many other ways. It's becoming quite common for a company to have a blog, a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page, a Twitter account, etc. This is great as it allows the company to reach out and communicate with its customers and prospects effectively (if used properly) and without a lot of expense (which is really imporant for a start-up).
However, I've recently read some blog posts asking whether companies should not have a web site anymore and use their Facebook page instead. Some have even said social media is killing marketing as Brian Clark (@copyblogger) and Robert Bruce discuss on this episode of Copyblogger Radio.
In other cases, companies become obsessed with social media and it becomes their entire marketing program. I'm sure it is possible that there are companies where this works and it may even be the best plan for them but I believe these companies are few and far between and would argure that most companies cannot use social media as their only marketing tactic.
There are many marketing tactics that can be used to communicate your message, build awareness, generate leads, move prospects through the sales funnel or reach whatever objective you have set for your marketing program. Some of these tactics include media relations, analyst relations, email marketing, webinars, tradeshows, direct mail, advertising, SEO/SEM, content, AND social media, etc.
One of the most important things in marketing is to develop the appropriate mix of these tactics to reach your audience and meet your objectives. To do that though, you can't start with the tactics but you need to develop your message, know your audience and define your objectives so you can select the right tactics for that program.
For example, imagine you need to generate some leads for a new product that targets an audience which is not on Facebook or Twitter. If you start with the tactics and decide you are going to use social media for this program I will guarantee that it will not be successful as no one who may be interested in your product will ever see your message and offer. By knowing your audience and objective, you can see that something more traditional like direct mail, advertising, tradeshows (if the audience attends), or maybe email, will likely be more effective in this example in generating leads.
I'm not saying companies shouldn't use social media. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and others can all be very effective marketing tools. They may even be the cornerstone of your next marketing program. What I am saying is they can't be the only tactic in your marketing mix and they won't kill marketing.
As John Jantsch (@ducttape) puts it in his post The Social Media Party Is Over, "Marketing fundamentals have not changed, the tools available to both marketer and consumer have changed." I couldn't have summarized this any better. Use marketing fundamentals to develop your next plan and then decide on the tactics that will work best.