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.
When we take pause to appreciate where we are, we can truly appreciate just how far we’ve come.
I recently stumbled across an interesting infographic as it made the rounds across the social web recently. Created by bestedsites.com, the graphic visualizes the meteoric rise of the Internet in just 10 years. For example, in 2002, the Internet boasted 569 million users, which represented 9.1% of the world population. In 2012, that number skyrocketed to 2.27 billion at 33% of the world population. Another tremendous stat is the daily time spent online. In 2002 it was only 46 minutes a day (that was probably the time it took to load one web site). In 2012, it’s clocked four hours a day.
Is content still king?
According to Deanna Brown, CEO, Federated Media Publishing, “Content, in the right context, is ultimately king.”
Welcome to the evolution of publishing, where storytelling, advertising, and technology intersect. By having unhindered access to social and mobile media platforms, brands are experimenting with paid, owned, and earned media to reach connected consumers in their channels of relevance. As brands dabble in publishing, traditional marketing and advertising networks are also evolving.
In February, the team at Pivot released a revealing research report that documented the increasing gap between marketer and customers. I referred to this as the Great Divide or the “The Perception Gap,” the distance between what customers want in social media and what executives think they want. In collaboration with Barnickel Design, we’ve just released this infographic that visualizes the extent of the perception gap between social consumers and social businesses.
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. More so, he humanizes technology’s causal effect to help people see people differently and understand what to do about it. He is an award-winning author and avid keynote speaker who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation and innovation.
Brian has authored several best-selling books including
What’s the Future of Business (WTF),
The End of Business as Usual.
His blog, BrianSolis.com, is ranked as a leading resource for insights into the future of business, new technology and marketing.