If the past decade was all about the power of linking and integrating web pages and data, today it's all about power of linking and integrating people. Brands today must socialize with consumers in ways that increase their relevance and value in the eyes of their consumers. Brands must develop a credible social voice that is more engaging, personal, humble, authentic, and participatory than ever before.
Social media and networking are all the rage these days, but many people still do not understand what all the fuss is about. From the outside looking in, it would seem that online social networking is all about spending a lot of time doing nothing. But once you understand that a social network is as much of a place or social construct, as it is an activity, all of that begins to change. For many people, Social Networks are their home (or “hub”) online; a small piece of the web that they can call their own. Social media is really just participatory media disseminated through social interaction online. Users gravitate towards it extends a platform that allows people to both express their individuality - and meet people with similar interests.
Social Media is about recognizing, accounting for, and tapping into the fact that, as your potential consumer makes a purchasing (or engagement) decision—they are being influenced by different circles of people through conversations with them, both online and off. Consumer conversations about brands, products and services are increasingly woven into the interactions of social networks as a means to connect with others, and these conversations have great influence (even though people aren’t consciously asking about brand opinions.) Moreover, consumers do not always realize how much influencing they are doing and how much they are being influenced when they have conversations about brands across social platforms.
Most companies are seeing Social Media as an imperative today simply because search ranking, indexing, and subsequent monetization are directly tied to end-user experience and interaction. The bottom line is social media marketing is relationship marketing. You need to fish where the fish are. To this end, our ultimate goal is to ensure a framework is in place to turn the world of social media into a strong asset and powerful tool to grow and extend your relationships and business. Some (high-level) questions to answer before you get started include:
LISTEN | do YOU have the ability to monitor your brand?
Make sure you have the ability to update comments, requests, questions, and concerns in a timely manner. It’s one thing to participate in the massive conversation that is social media, but if you have no mechanism for seeing what’s being said about you, your competition, your products, or your employees¾adding any real value to the conversation will be a challenge. Consider investing in a social media monitoring solution (e.g. Radian6, Alterian), or you can even build your own using Google Reader if so inclined.
SPEAK |ARE YOU prepared to be transparent in your communications?
Social media has created a forum for people to openly voice their opinions. If they feel that they’re being sold something that may be too good to be true, they surely will talk about it. So, admit your shortcomings, and exorcize your demons as quickly as you would your triumphs and successes. This will earn people’s trust – the currency of the social sphere.
ENGAGE| ARE YOU prepared to BE PARTICIPATORY?
Social media acts as an enabler and facilitator of this two-way exchange with your prospects and consumers. This exchange importantly evolves your communication platform from a (one-way) monologue to a (two-way) participatory experience.
GIVE | DO you have something of value to share?
This question may seem obvious, but just take a look at the myriad of Blogs and Twitter accounts that provide worthless, insipid content. Moreover, companies that Tweet their “About Us” website page in 140 characters over the course of a week are adding nothing more then noise. Worse still, this will likely create detrimental brand exposure. Best to start by creating original content that would be of value to prospects and clients - and then expose it to relevant social media channels. Spread other people’s content as well (and give credit to the sources.)
These are just a few thoughts to start establishing a social framework for your brand. More will follow in the upcoming weeks and months.
Just remember, if you have any specific questions, we’re always here to help. ;)