Remember those old Palmolive commercials with Madge the Manicurist? If you are old enough, you almost certainly do. They were probably one of Palmolive’s more memorable campaigns. The gist is that Palmolive is such a mild dishwashing soap that it not only doesn’t cause “dishpan hands” it actually helps prevent them. “You’re soaking in it,” Madge says to a customer, who is surprised to find that her fingers are indeed soaking in a bowl of green liquid. (Scroll down if you want to see the video)
I’ve had Madge in mind ever since a few months ago when I was involved in a discussion with an organization about its social media strategy. It was a short discussion that was essentially over when one of the executives asserted, “Our audience doesn’t read blogs or visit YouTube.” That, I thought at the time, is wrong. Many of your customers and potential customers do these things even if they do not realize they are doing them. But at the time, the battle was lost, and I simply tucked this thought away to pull out later.
The thought popped back up recently as I was reading a posting on ReadWriteWeb in which blogger Josh Catone, writes:
While most “regular” people might not be avid blog readers, they still read them passively when encountering blog content via links from mainstream sources, links in emails, or search results.
My thoughts exactly. The fact is, there is an awful lot of blog reading going on out there in one way or another. Recent studies indicate that roughly 4 in 10 people read blogs, but mind you, these are statistics for people who realize they are reading blogs. Funny, too, I’ve now seen the CEO of the company referenced above circulate numerous Web videos via e-mail. How else do you think it is that things like “Sneezing Panda” or “Will it Blend” go viral? It’s not because people are spending their days surfing YouTube. This CEO certainly isn’t.
The ReadWriteWeb posting was not really about social media adoption. At least not directly. It was about a new search service from the blog search engine Technorati. But search, of course, is a large part of what makes social media so powerful. Day after day, people are typing terms into Google and ending up on blogs, wikis, video sites, and any range of other social media destinations without necessarily knowing that is what they are doing. If they are searching for you and your products and services, they are going to find out about you in these places whether you like it or not.
It’s an old point, I know. But it seems to be one that merits being made again and again, at least at this stage in the Web’s evolution. The message for organizations that are avoiding social media is simply this: Don’t think that just because you are not aware of it social media is not impacting your organization. The fact is, you – and your customers – are soaking in it.
P.S. – Never saw that old Palmolive commercial, or want to see it again? Here it is (from YouTube, of course):