What a difference eight years makes: St. Peter's Square in 2005 and yesterday! Within seconds of the Pope's announcement, Twitter was already trending #pope! The news spreads faster through private individuals than media outlets. The simple truth is this: mobile is the future and social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are the new media outlets. Social media is not an advertising or marketing expense, it is an administrative cost. How does this translate to businesses and individuals looking to connect with their audience? A growing proportion of traffic is coming from smart phones and tablets. The market is responding with 8 in 10 media buyers planning to increase their mobile advertising in the next 12 to 18 months. The challenge is to not only capture people’s attention on their mobile devices, but also to engage them on a personal level. With a growing distrust of traditional advertising, consumers are tuning out. As many as 79% of television viewers skip at least some ads by channel surfing during commercial breaks.

We can't stress enough the growing importance of social media and the catch-up game many agencies and large brands are playing. This may sound a little presumptuous but the bigger point is some CFOs, CMOs and their big-name agencies are still stuck in the "campaign" way of thinking. --With campaign defined as: We have $X budget for time A to B. Based on the number of purchases within this time frame, a return on investment is calculated to determine whether or not the campaign was successful. It's probably one of the main reasons agencies are hired and fired at the flip of a coin. Social media has disrupted the advertising industry to its core. My message to agencies: hire us before your clients hire directly themselves. Forgive my bias, I am not against agencies, they have incredible ideas and at times entertain us with great ads. Then they give awards to one another at an events where the cost to network with these big cats is $500+ for a steak dinner. Truth is, unless they are entertaining, we don't have time for ads. A bigger, sadder truth is how some companies are still outsourcing their social media efforts to agencies. Would you let your agency creative or account executive talk to your prospective clients directly? Probably not. Prospective clients and current customers would most likely deal with someone within your organization. What I am suggesting is while social media may be used for marketing and PR, it should be handled and costed internally and of course with our help. This is at the core of our collaboration strategy.

We are here to assist companies with their efforts but chances are very likely that a client may pop up on the radar and that is no place for an agency-ourselves included--it is a place for a sales, marketing and/or an internal PR rep. There is a clear point where we do hand off a prospect client to an internal representative in the company. Social media forces companies and brands to interact on a one-to-one level and that takes time. The big cats don't roll like that. Good-old-fashioned networking on a virtual platform is our motto here. Social media is not an on-and-off button switch. Social media has just one button, ON. To measure social media's ROI would be similar to measuring the ROI of your office's phone lines, secretaries, janitor or office lease. Social media is not a marketing or advertising expense, but rather a fixed administrative cost. I repeat: it is an ongoing administrative cost, not an on-and-off advertising expense. At some point some companies will need to learn how to expense social media accordingly. In a B2B scenario, if you want to connect with your future clients, it's time to pick up the phone or in this case login to Twitter and start chatting. The difference is, it's not a cold call; to coin a phrase, it's a cold tweet -- 140 characters at a time.

Happy tweeting!