Monday, November 23, 2009

Social Media: It Extends Beyond Twitter You Know…

There’s no denying the fact that Twitter holds staggering sway over digital marketers and society at large. Mention ‘social media’ to anyone and Twitter is likely to be an automatic response. Whilst such a successful social media channel is a fantastic advocate for Web 3.0, digital marketers working in this channel need to remember that social media extends far beyond updating tweets of 140 characters.

Facebook may well have been the first social network to genuinely permeate society; however it’s Twitter that has gone that step further and integrated itself into our everyday lives, validating its position as the ‘poster boy’ of social media. But that’s exactly the point; just because Twitter is the David Beckham of the social media world doesn’t mean that there aren’t other players on that scene.

Take LinkedIn for example. The social network for professionals now has over 50 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the world. Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members, which serves as a glowing reference for the power, and importance, social media now holds over all levels of society.

Whereas Twitter has become as valid a communications platform as email, playing host to conversations, breaking news and interesting links, LinkedIn allows users to develop much deeper relationships through its array of forums, groups and networks. Twitter may be getting all the press, but social media has an array of uses and consumers are using different channels for different purposes – and this is something digital marketers should not forget.

Pretty much every brand, company and organisation is now eager to ‘do’ social media. For the uneducated, this involves leaping on the Twitter bandwagon without due consideration, which results in a pointless offering that adds no real value to your customers. Whereas Twitter can greatly enhance your digital brand offering, this is only the case when it’s managed properly.

What the majority of companies need to remember is that social media extends far beyond Twitter. Careful thought and planning needs to be behind every digital marketing strategy – social media is no different. Get your brand on social media by all means, but consider the array of options available to you – your social media strategy cannot survive on Twitter alone.

Friday, November 20, 2009

We were all Social Media sceptics a year ago…

Social media sceptics are undeniably decreasing in number - the success of SM this year has generated enough proof to convert those that remain...

A year ago (and this is certainly true for British readers of this blog) Twitter was relatively unheard of. Whilst this statement is undeniable true, the fact that the social network is now so firmly entrenched in our daily lives and routines makes it difficult to imagine a time when we were sceptical about social media.

Nevertheless, as little as twelve months ago, many members of the marketing community claimed that social media was a fad and had little relevance for business, branding and networking. How wrong they were.

As 2009, undeniably the ‘Year of Twitter’, draws to a close, the digital marketing landscape is irrevocably different. Social media now dominates the digital marketing landscape for a number of reasons. For one, social media marketers now have a year’s further experience under their belt. Secondly, the channel is an excellent remedy to marketing budgets that have been constricted by the recession. Finally – and perhaps most importantly – it works.

Brands are now more connected and close to their consumers before – or rather, consumers are now more empowered. Brand relationships have become more intimate, purely due to the role social media has played.

To list an example from personal experience, I was looking for a particular book from Waterstones. Rather than go down the traditional route of looking at FAQs on the website, trying vainly to find an appropriate contact, emailing a ‘customer services’ address and then waiting days for a human response after an automated one had informed me my query would be ‘dealt with as soon as possible’, I looked to Twitter.

I found the Waterstones Twitter page in fifteen seconds, asked them a question and had a response (the one I was looking for) within ten minutes. Great customer service and a much more personal relationship between brand and consumer.

I agree with social media sceptics on one issue – you cannot build an entire marketing strategy around social media. However, when done right, social media is an essential value-add for your business that builds intimate relationships and strengthens your offering tenfold. We’ve come a long way in a year – and the ensuing twelve months will surely turn any remaining sceptics into social media converts.