I was speaking to a very smart client this week responsible for answering customer questions for a large company. (I am seeing several clients start to treat their “support” team as part of marketing, and this company is a prime candidate to do the same.) My client rattled off all sorts of evidence for why social media was becoming the new force in providing customer support. Customers go to social media, rather than to our company’s website, he concluded. He then asked me, “So why should we invest in search engines, content management systems, and even content for our website? Shouldn’t we move all of our investment to social media?”
On the face of it, it would seem like the answer is “yes.” Too often, we keep investing in old stuff and don’t give the new stuff its due. Here, finally, is a forward-looking person ready to shift investment in the face of changing conditions. But my answer was “no.”
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I had my reasons, too. While social media is the flavor of the month, the truth is that not “all” customers have moved to social media. So, while you should be making an investment there, you shouldn’t completely zero out your investment in your website, which many (maybe most) customers still use. In addition, the content assets you create that answer the questions are the fodder that need to be shared on social, too, to answer the same questions. Even though it seems like the new eats the old for lunch, that usually is not the case. It’s typically more subtle than that.
And that’s the problem with always looking at the new new thing. The new new thing might be trendy and hot, and should definitely garner some resources, but it usually doesn’t reduce the old thing to zero. TV didn’t kill radio–it just reduced it. The web didn’t kill newspapers and magazines–but it certainly changed the ways in which we use them.
After a little discussion with my client, he began to be persuaded that social isn’t completely obliterating websites and website content. After all, websites have been with us for 20 years, and customers still use email to ask questions. Email has been with us for 40 years, and customers still use the phone to ask a question.
Web chat didn’t kill anything either.
Each of these techniques merely changed how you use the ones that come before. Each time a new technique comes along, the usage of older ones are reduced, but they typically don’t go to zero. Making the sound decisions on allocating your resources based on usage is one of the key ways that we optimize our spending.
Why the New Never Completely Drives Out the Old