Guest Post by Jaap Favier, managing partner of The Small Circle
What is the secret of bars? Why do we happily pay four times as much for beer in a bar as in a store? We pay this brand premium to be with friends. The secret of bars is that they convert our quality time into cash. Like bars, social media are places where friends meet. The best social media programs also convert the consumer’s social time into a brand premium, reaching a return on investment (ROI) up to four times as high as the ROI of a TV commercial.
Mark Zuckerberg announced in a short and sweet post today that Facebook is now home to one billion digital denizens. I’m not going to focus on the impact this news will have on its stock. Instead, I would like to focus on how this significant milestone aligns with his vision, a vision that was clearly communicated in the company’s S-1.
After re-reading Zuckerberg’s letter to investors, here are a few themes that resonate with me in light of this news…
The state of the relationship between Twitters and its developer community is nothing short of tumultuous. While there are significant merits on either side of the debate, what’s clear is that the Twitter of yore is no longer on a similar course for what will be the Twitter to come. It’s a sign of maturation and focus. It’s Twitter’s shift from tech startup and media darling to an aspiring new media empire. Ruffling feathers and clipping wings is an unfortunate reality of any business strategy.
Every day, an increasing number of connected consumers are taking to social networks to ask for help or express sentiment related to business or product related experiences; some do so to seek resolution from their peers, others broadcast questions or comments as a form of catharsis; and a smaller group of consumers actually hope to receive a response directly from the company. The reality is that social media is the new normal. A myriad of social networks, whether you use them or not, are now part of the day-to-day digital lifestyle with Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Youtube among others becoming the places where your customers connect, communicate, and engage around experiences. They take to these social networks and more because they can. The question is, what are you going to do about it?
There’s been many debates as to whether or not social media promotes activism or whether or not it’s actually fostering a lazy form of participation. Retweets and Likes don’t bring about change. While I believe social media is a strong platform for raising awareness, the relationship between cause and effect is defined by action regardless of medium.
I can’t be the only one to notice this…infographics, “viral” videos, Like and Retweet campaigns, they all seem to be trying a bit too hard lately. For example, most infographics I see today are no more than visual press releases with graphical elements tied to information…and then more information…but wait, then more information. If this was just about visualizing scrolls of information, then anyone using free infographic generating tools and a list of interesting data points could make pinteresting graphics. The key is to think less about the packaging and more about the story you want to tell. But even more importantly, it’s time to put the social in social media and craft the story you want people to talk about and share.
It wasn’t too long ago when sport industries were confounded by the openness of social media and the ability for fans and players to share experiences in real time. Now of course, times have changed and teams in every sporting league imaginable are experimenting with social media to improve relationships and experiences with fans. The San Francisco Giants are among the sports teams that are leading the way for a new genre of engagement and community building.
As you’ll no doubt read here over and over again, social media is important to your business. If you don’t engage on Twitter, Facebook, or Youtube, you’ll eventually go out of business. At least that’s what the experts will have you believe. Fear tactics are not so much as effective in business or defining customer relationships as they are at creating a sense of [contrived] controversy. I must be honest with you however. While social media is indeed a game changer, it is not the magnum opus of your legacy. I would like to introduce you to what really is important…your customers. Allow me to be a bit more specific. This isn’t just about your customers. This is about how a growing number of your customers are changing how they influence and are influenced, how they communicate and connect, how they learn, discover and share, how they make decisions and how they take action.
One of the challenges marketers and strategists face today is understanding the difference between a success story and an example that has true business impact. With every story and through our own experience, we are learning about the transformation companies are undertaking to migrate from social brands to social businesses. One of the emergent trends that we will soon be tracking is the move from social to experiential where social media plays only one part in the greater production of everyday customer engagement. Social becomes part of the overall experience as does mobile, web, real world, and other channel strategies that guide customers on the journey… wherever it may begin and on whichever path they prefer. The experience must be dedicated to each channel yet integrated to deliver a holistic brand odyssey.
I often write about enterprise organizations and global brands…essentially big businesses. This is the first in a series dedicated to small businesses.
One of the biggest misconceptions about social media strategy is that only the big brands and enterprise organizations can afford success. The impression is bigger businesses have unlimited resources, people and budgets to execute on all new ideas. This is simply not true. Like in anything, people are focused on their jobs as they exist and anything new that comes along, well, it’s met with prejudice.
Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.
His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.