Social media is a cultural revolution, not a social revolution. – Toby Daniels  

Social media is changing everything related to how we communicate.  Perhaps as revolutionary as the telephone or email, the way in which we interact with each other and brands is rapidly changing.   

According to one industry expert, Steve Rubel, we are in the midst of a “deforestation” of traditional media.  Newspapers are collapsing and those that are able to stay afloat are forced to run advertising on the front page.  Consumers believe that marketers owe them something and that they control the relationship – don’t worry, we’ll find you.  

A traditional marketer clamors for the hard, metrics-showing value of social media marketing.  Turns out the value is in what you can’t measure.  The value is being a part of a trusted relationship. Being there to right an out-of-left-field, inflammatory message that spreads across the world in a matter of days.

Intrusive doesn’t work. – Chris Cunningham, Appssavvy  

You are at a cocktail party, chatting with an old friend.  All of the sudden another friend comes up to you, dressed as a cow and pokes you in the arm.  If that’s not enough, they ask you to return the favor and poke them back.  What would your reaction be?  Probably some combination of complete embarrassment and promptly telling them to go away.   

I just described the digital cocktail party some of us like to call Facebook.  The evolving social media network user isn’t interested in the goofy distractions.  They are interested in calling the shots in how they use the platform.  They look for their friends, chat, and then look for more to do in applications. 

This is where the new frontier is developing for a marketer.  Getting involved in applications where they can determine, reward, and understand a consumer’s behavior.  As a brand it’s becoming your role to come alongside the consumer and offer him something.  Establishing this relationship establishes not only brand loyalty but a voice in the digital world that is ready to come to your defense when an incorrect message spreads.  

Consumerism and gouging on media is dying. – Steve Rubel, Edelman Digital  

Digital bankruptcy (i.e. emptying your inbox of all the unread message, relying on the notion “if it’s important, someone will find me”), scanning 20 percent of a Web page and spending usually no more than 56 seconds on the page is evidence that we are media-tired.  The average American visits only 111 domains per month and goes to 2,554 Web sites.    (Wish I could claim these as ideas as soley mine… thanks to Steve Rubel’s insights and numbers.)

As a marketer, doing that quick math probably leaves you uneasy.  How do I make a meaningful impact with my message when the consumer isn’t making in a meaningful effort to consume information?  The answer is simple: conversation.  Be there.  And you better be authentic.  

So now what?   

452 – number of times you have seen “So now what?” in a post about social media.  I kid about that, but most of the posts I have read about social media boil down to this: we don’t know what it means yet but we do know you should do it.  So do it.  Helpful right?  Not exactly.   

Here’s what I contend:

  1. Be committed: If your brand is in an app, or a blog, or tweeting customer service, you are now committed to join this social media wild ride.  Your digital foot print will be out there for a long time to come and should be grown intentionally.
  2. Measure: This is the biggest sticking point I come across.  The suits want metrics.  And they should get them, just not necessarily the way they expect.  You have the freedom to define the metrics.  Choose a vectors: reach, engagement, reputation, and direct response.  Or come up with the ones that make the most sense.  If you are trying to get the most followers on twitter, are you doing it?
  3. Let your users do the heavy lifting: Empower and equip your brand all-stars to spread the word about how great you are.  Their word-of-mouth brand push is more valuable than any banner ad.  And they will be there to defend you the minute something inflammatory is posted on YouTube.