Do Social Media Laggards Suffer A Competitive Deficit?

by Chris Kenton on January 30, 2009

Snail after the rain,  chiocciola dopo la pioggiaI need your insights. I do a lot of social media scanning in my business–literally hundreds of conversations per day across many different industries. I’ve noticed certain business sectors where a competitive advantage for social media adoption is apparent–consumer electronics, for example. But I’ve also noticed some surprising sectors where industry incumbents are not on the social media radar, and I haven’t been able yet to clearly define the competitive disadvantage that may, or may not, exist.

Some laggard sectors are obvious–does a cement producer serving a fairly non-technical market need to be active on social media to beat the competition? Not today. But other sectors are surprising. In marketing, for example, many of the traditional heavyweights in media and consulting are not on the social media radar for topics that define their market position. In some cases, the lack of presence is truly astounding–due to incredibly poor website optimization for SEO, no relevant content production, no participation in industry dialog. But it doesn’t appear to be hurting their business. At least not yet.

Now, let me state clearly that I personally believe it will hurt, enough to move the marketing industry inexorably toward social media integration. I know many, many examples of substantial projects going to social media boutique shops and consultants that in the past would have gone to some of these firms now lagging behind the social media curve. And yet, there’s still enough business to go around that the laggards haven’t been compelled to move faster to close the social media gap–and there’s a large enough market of buyers who are content with traditional approaches, and similarly unsure of how fast and how far they should step into social media. If it becomes enough of a compelling issue, the acquisition engines will surely heat up.

But. My question is about today. To what degree are companies that are lagging in the adoption of social media marketing techniques suffering any real competitive deficits. I’m not asking for an enumeration of competitive advantages for social media, but real examples of competitive disadvantage for laggards. Sales lost. Customer defections. Revenue declines. Do you have any first-hand anecdotes, examples or insights?

Why does this matter? I’m trying to step out of the echo chamber and get a sense of where we are on the social media adoption curve. Clearly social media offers many new market approach opportunities, and in some sectors a true competitive advantage. The question is whether those new opportunities replace existing opportunities in most sectors, or whether they are simply additive at this point. Simply stated, when lagging hurts, adoption will accelerate. So, where does it hurt?

Photocredit: pizzodisevo

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew Deal January 30, 2009 at 1:15 pm

I would say the jury is still out for a lot of industries.

Radio is lagging in social media, which will be a liability among the many others, but it is not material in their quarter by quarter business.

Other media industries are slowly coming around, selectively engaging twitter and other tools in inverse proportion to their size.

Jason Holman May 5, 2011 at 7:10 am

I’m developing a startup and I’d love to hear a follow-up on
“To what degree are companies that are lagging in the adoption of social media marketing techniques suffering any real competitive deficits.”
-real examples of competitive disadvantage for laggards.
With a couple years to reflect, I think this would be really interesting stuff…
Thanks! Jason
http://twitter.com/#!/holman_jc

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