It has already turned journalism on its head – now social media is set to do the same to marketers, writes Andrea Jones.

Over the past decade, social has turned anyone with a smartphone into a wannabe news reporter who can broadcast their news around the world, anytime. We’ve come to accept – and perhaps appreciate – real-time news, although some argue it has also affected the quality of reporting. Social has undoubtedly changed journalism forever.

Marketing is next.

Social is of course already a major part of any marketing program. If you want to market to millennials, then not only are you making sure your brand is on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, but also you’re striving to position yourself as being engaged, cool, relevant and genuine.

I recently talked to the CEO of a German start-up aiming to sell alcoholic beverages online, targeting millennials. His marketing approach? Fully DIY.

No surprises here, he’s one of a million examples of how social media has combined to make anyone a marketer. What was more of a surprise was his attitude: That marketing is something that anyone can do – and get it right – straight out of the box.

Social is a double-edged sword
What should worry marketers most is that like many, this start-up’s motivation is not about saving money on marketing agencies. It is about creating a networking-marketing approach, based on a deep conviction that millennials “market differently”. And of course, as a digital native, “you don’t need an agency for that…”

However, what DIY marketers consistently fail to initially recognize is that social is a double-edged sword. On the positive side, you get instant, unfiltered, direct access to your audience – and on the negative side, you get – guess what? – instant, unfiltered, direct access to your audience.

If you do take the DIY approach, then at least make sure you apply the “four eyes” principle and have someone else check your work. Because if you’re serious about cutting out the middle man and taking a DIY approach to social, then you also need to know what you’re doing.