“Social Media Marketing people? They all deserve to die”

That was a paraphrase of a comment by someone I know well. And at the time, I agreed.

I was halfway through the afternoon of the Likeminds 10 conference and had just nipped out for a bathroom break. There was a panel discussion going on about blogging and journalism. I felt this was the one bit where I wasn’t really engaged.

Conferences are difficult, especially when you have a wide range of people in the audience. And focusing on the negatives wouldn’t do the rest of the event justice: we had some brilliant keynotes, the personal touch at lunch was inspired, and some of the panelists genuinely insightful and engaging.

I’m not here to review the conference though. Lots of other people are doing that as I type this. It was great. That’s all you need to know.

But there were a lot of people in the audience who somehow “do” social media marketing for clients. And sitting there I was thinking: if I ran a business, would I need to hire any of these people?

I’m not sure I would. And not because they aren’t good people.

You see, I work in the IT department of a large organisation. But I don’t believe there is any future in it: I think that in 10 years time there won’t be internal IT departments: the technology itself will be cloud-sourced and the expertise in procuring and expoiting it will be absorbed into the person-specs of front line staff. Are you a professional salesperson/trainer/finance person? – If so, it’s YOUR duty to understand what technology is doing for you.

And I think the same is going to become true of marketing in general and social media marketing in particular. Marketing is about understanding customer needs and expectations: everyone in the organisation needs to do that. And that means that everyone in the organisation needs to be connected to the conversation, engaging with the customer and with each other.

In a true people-to-people business everyone is a marketer, and social software can enable that.

The Marketing department is dead. Social Media marketing gurus are so last year. We are all social media marketing gurus now.