Sure, the marketing industry and the world of celebrities and obsessive compulsives of all ages, have tended to give social media a bad name and we can't blame so many of our captains of industry for turning their backs on it.
But, we can and should blame them for pushing it aside, just because they don't understand it.
The truth is that social media is very much in its infancy in South Africa, but there are already very clear signs that it is impacting on business.
As retail moves inexorably towards online shopping and the consumer moves equally inexorably towards searching, questioning and complaining about products and services through the internet and social media, CEOs need to realise that:
a) Ignoring social media is like trying to run a company without any accounting skills.
b) Online marketing and social media, particularly, cannot be either completely outsourced nor delegated to some junior in the office.
Very shortly CEOs will be forced to at least understand the process and its impact on both B2C and B2B businesses of all shapes and sizes.
In many case CEOs will have to get involved in social media conversations for precisely the same reason that they have to personally present a company's financial results or feedback at board meetings.
Think about it. A CEO not brothering to attend a board meeting and just getting his PA to stand in for him wouldn't last long.
One only has to look at the likes of Michael Jordaan and what he did for the FNB brand by becoming personally involved in social media and the entire marketing process. That is a case history that only a complete idiot would ignore.
It is time that internal marketing and PR people stopped pussyfooting around their CEOs and started gathering sufficient evidence to show them that ignoring the issue will not only come back to bite them personally but will put the entire company in jeopardy.
The same applies to the entire internet of things. Just think about how many times in the past year you have tried to find something online and been faced with a bland website that tells you nothing and asks you to phone or e mail for more information?
South Africa is full of companies like that. Just paying lip service and hoping for the best.
I have to say that one of the things that keeps me from retiring is the requests I get from PR and marketing people to come in and scare the hell out of their boards, CEOs and financial directors about the folly of ignoring the internet and social media. In the end, though, they always appreciate having had their arses kicked.