Tag Archives: Web 2.0

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.

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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.

Social Media, the Elected & the Electorate…

It’s not only brands that are marketing themselves through social media – the public sector has also embraced all things social media related…

Accusing politicians of being inaccessible to the people they purport to represent is hardly an original notion. For years gone by, critics have accused elected representatives of sitting in an ivory tower and passing laws for a society they don’t really have any communication with. Well, whatever political beliefs you subscribe to, one thing is fast becoming clear – social media is granting us more access to our Government than ever before.

Of course, (the more cynical) marketers amongst us will argue that political communications through channels such as Twitter are simply an extension of political PR; managed by a press office function and devoid of any real authenticity. This may well be true in certain cases; however there’s no denying that Twitter also has a range of genuine politicians who are actively seeking to engage with voters and constituents through this blossoming channel.

Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, is perhaps one of the most prominent politicians to be championing social media; so much so that the Labour Party made her New Media Campaigns Spokesperson back in August. The creation of this significant role not only tasks McCarthy with encouraging MPs and government officials to use new media as a form of engagement with voters, but also demonstrates the level of importance the Government now assigns to social media as a communications tool.

Miss McCarthy is not the only politician flying the social media flag however. The list of MPs using Twitter is now too long to list individually and this can only be a good thing. Many voters remained disillusioned following the expenses scandal – an incident worsened due to its arrival in a very hard recession – so the transparency social media affords is the perfect antidote to any remaining ill feeling.

This transparency allows the public to connect with politicians like never before, especially through the real time posting of pictures, links and information. Not only can the public now feel included in current events – pictures allow them to see what’s happening and feel involved like never before. Take this (admittedly rather posed) picture of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and colleague Vince Cable (click here) – we’re involved in what they’re doing because we can see it. Instantly.

Social media does not pretend to be an answer to political problems. Just because a politician is on Twitter does not make their policies correct. However social media allows people to connect better than ever before – and goes a long way to closing the distance between the electorate and the elected.

Why all the hang-ups on ROI?

It genuinely, genuinely amazes me that so many marketers remain sceptical when it comes to social media. ‘Not being able to measure ROI’ is an oft cited ‘reason’; however marketers subscribing to this misguided view are in reality, missing out on real value.

It’s certainly true that social media now uses considerable marketing resource. A few years ago, many businesses considered a company blog the very height of digital innovation, and perhaps ‘Literate Linda’ from accounts was left to update it once a week with news of the company raffle. These days (thankfully) have long gone and social media is now a sprawling mass of interactions across multiple platforms.

We now have brands interacting on Twitter (the undeniable darling of the social media world), talking with consumers in forums, social network sites, mobile applications – the list grows exponentially every week. Despite the advent of social media however, the doubters are right in one thing – we don’t yet have a way to measure commercial ROI – but why should this be the yardstick by which social media’s value is determined?

From a business perspective, one of the biggest benefits of social media is the fact that it allows brands to interact with their consumers. Web 2.0 has killed off the days of one-way marketing communications – consumers no longer accept being ‘talked to’; they want to be part of the conversation – which is where social media comes in. Focus on providing excellent customer service and brand experiences and this will be replicated in social media channels again and again and again.

Similarly, social media puts faces to faceless corporations. Building relationships on a human level benefits businesses enormously – how could it not? Discussions on networking sites (such as LinkedIn) allow companies to listen to what their consumers are talking about, what their concerns are, what their needs are. What makes them tick, how your business can help them.

No ROI? I beg to differ.

The times are changing. The times have changed. And for those waiting on the sidelines, still wondering whether to get involved, you’re missing a valuable trick. Yes, we’re still waiting for a way to quantify monetary ROI for social media. But sometimes marketing isn’t about money. Worrying about social media ROI can blinker you – and ensure that you miss out on something of real value.