Social Media Marketing Myopia: The Danger of Nearsightedness

Social media marketing is an expansive tool, and ignoring it can mean a brand’s demise; and it can mean it much sooner than they think.

First of all, what is marketing myopia? The term, coined by Theodore Levitt in a Harvard Business Review article in 1960, refers to a company’s complacency when it reaches a certain stature.

Effectively, it suggests that companies in growth industries will stop innovating when they reach a certain threshold, and simply ride the wave of success, assuming research and development cannot benefit the company in any way. Levitt explains that, eventually, a company focuses solely on the product and not on the customer.

This myopic and nearsighted view results in lowered barriers to entry, and new companies with a focus on innovation taking charge. The results to the once dominant brands are detrimental, and in many cases, it means their demise.

So how does marketing myopia fit in with social media marketing?

We posted an article about a social media marketing study conducted by MIT and Deloitte. In the study, findings show that brands have three years to get social. Despite these conclusions, only 18% of brands currently feel that social media is essential to business success. This is where marketing myopia fits in to social media marketing.

Many (in fact, most) major players in the largest industries today feel as though the path that led to their current stature is the undisputed path to success. Thus, social media marketing would add little if anything to further success. This mentality, according to Levitt, is what led to the decline (and near disappearance) of the railroad and film industries in the early part of the 20th century. An unwillingness to adopt new techniques and modify strategies can do nothing but hurt a brand.

The MIT-Deloitte study explained the hesitation by big brands to adopt social media marketing as a somewhat paradoxical phenomenon.

In economics, first mover advantage is defined as the advantage gained by the initial occupant of a market segment. Therefore, based on this theory, the early adopters of social media marketing stand to benefit the most. Yet, the study showed that many major brands refuse to move into this new medium without proven results. This is completely counter-intuitive, particularly when companies like IBM and Dell have found such great success using social media marketing after years of research and testing.

As we have noted, brands do not have long before social media marketing becomes as integral a part of every day business as the most essential of departments. By neglecting social in its incipience, brands stand to lose much more than first mover advantage. The numbers show it: companies can simply not afford to overlook social media marketing.

What are your thoughts on social media marketing myopia? Do you believe social media is on its way to being a cornerstone of successul business (if it is not already)? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!

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  2. […] can read up on my expansion of the concept with regards to Social Media Marketing Myopia here. Essentially, Marketing Myopia has to do with brands or industries refusing to adapt to new ways of […]

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