A friend sent me an article by Michael Estrin, Social media agencies to watch, published online August 17, 2009 in iMediaConnection.com. I suggest you read it before reading my comments below. Mr. Estrin is talking about social media et al. I was recently working on a project that focused primarily on Twitter practices and strategies. I think it is important to always focus on the needs, challenges of the business and then consider social media as a portion of your solution to meet those needs. Mr. Estrin’s examples show this well.
Excerpt: “…connecting with fans and audiences in niche communities in a conversational, contextual, and relevant way will lead to higher levels of engagement and generate more word of mouth, which has been proven to be the largest driver of conversions, purchases, and other behavioral changes. Enter: new media.”
I was put off at first because of the ‘size’ of the brands he choice to include. However, most (all?) of the examples he has chosen are excellent ones which match type of use of social media to business need. I think this is the key lesson in his article. More importantly, use of social media cannot be thought of as a ‘set up once and leave it’ sort of project, like we’ve been doing with websites. That is why some websites ‘fail’. They are static and quickly become boring. That is where Twitter can become useful. Simply by putting a Twitter feed on my blog, new content is fresher. However, my potential reader still needs to ‘find’ my blog or the blog of others. Twitter can be helpful here as well, my Tweets can include tantalizing headlines with links back to my blog if I have caught their attention. Linking back to ones website is something I am seeing a lot of in government agency use of Twitter. Useful process for informing or EDUCATING one’s readers further, a function that is in line with government agency needs. A less passive use is to link back to one’s blog and then continuing the conversation. This requires more attentive LISTENING by a dedicated, allocated human resource.
Another shortcoming of corporate websites and blogs is one must go to each of them. We could spend a lot of time surfing and possibly waiting for loading. I think the trend is for the info to come to the user. Facebook facilitates this. It is a very sophisticated feed aggregator, sorted by both ourselves and our friends. Like a little neighborhood newspaper or coffee shop we are sharing content of interest to us. So, when deciding how to use social media networks for spreading brand awareness, like good website design, marketing by social media really needs to identify their end user and consider potential campaigns to them carefully. AND in considering the ‘neighborhood’ they are visiting, make sure the method is friendly and interesting so it will get shared (cheapest way of spreading it).
Anyhow, this is a long way of saying that I agree with the examples he has used. I would have been more interested in the article if the brands touted in the article were not so well known. Keeping existing large corporate brands alive is not quite as interesting to me as who is using similar methods to grow and promote their ‘small’ businesses. I worry that soon there will only be big business. I am interested in your thoughts.