I am a strong advocate of social media for business. I think if a company makes social media just about marketing, they are missing the big picture of the power and potential these emerging relational technologies. I also think that business leaders need to be personally immersed in social media so they can understand firsthand what people are doing, why they are doing it, and how they can use this understanding for competitive advantage. If you keep social media at arm's length or allow your experience of it to be filtered through others, you will never really “get it.”

In my opinion, that is a big strategic mistake.

As I advocate social media, it's inevitable that I run into someone who feels compelled to remind us that social media is only a part of a company's overall marketing strategy. While technically absolutely correct, I think that statement represents a complacent posture.

If you try to fit social media into your existing “box” of marketing tools and techniques, you will marginalize its potential for your business. The only way to fully leverage the opportunity of social media is to allow these new relational capabilities to transform your marketing strategy, and for that matter, your entire business strategy.

Get a new box, transformed by relational tools and techniques, and then find a place in that new box for some of your most effective traditional marketing methods.

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