I was dumbfounded as I walked around the Winter NAMM 2010 show at the utter lack of awareness that manufacturers and dealers alike have for social media. Of the more than 1500 exhibitors, I only saw a single MySpace address, zero Facebook fan site addresses, Twitter addresses, or anything else remotely tied to social media. In fact, it seems that many companies were even lax with website info, if you can imagine that.
For all the attention that social networking has gotten in the last year, it's penetration isn't nearly as high as we're lead to believe, at least in this space. I do have an explanation, however.
1) Let's face it, everyone in a small company is overworked. Each person wears a number of different hats and it's pretty much impossible to do anything particularly well with so little time to spend on each task. Social networking is time consuming, and there's just not enough hours in the day to get it done, even if you're aware of the potential benefits.
2) Most PR firms are blissfully unaware of social media. The ones I spoke with told me about attending seminars to learn about it, so they're still neophytes themselves, but even they didn't have the time to get their arms around the discipline for their clients.
If the musical instrument industry, which is relatively hip, has these problems, can you imagine what other industries are like? The bottom line is that there's a real opportunity for a social PR company to take up the considerable slack that's being left by existing PR.
By the way, Jet City Amplifiers, a brand new amp company, is one of the few exceptions, with a pretty good Facebook and Twitter presence that has stoked their sales considerably right out of the box.
Siloam band had one of the worst spots on the exhibit floor (obviously it was cheap) but they were touting their wares with a video and live performances. I don't know if NAMM is the right venue, but I do like the fact that they were trying something out of the norm.