It’s a bit soon to be consigning Google+ as G’s failed and final attempt at social, as some are already doing. Don’t use such chatter as an easy excuse to avoid the usual intellectual dive needed to understand what this development means, could mean, or where it’s potentially headed.
Google+ could well become a place where integration is possible across your online communications (email, voice, chat & video), your online content (video, images and audio), your networks, and your contacts. This level of integration would enable conversion and exposure metric cross-reporting on the social engagement activity through all of your web properties and online content. Consider how siloed the web really is at the moment.
Google already has a level of control and insight into my own online business footprint. All of my professional contacts and much of my own online commercial content – and the metrics around them – sits on a Google family platform:
Search – the webpages from my various websites and blog have all been crawled and indexed by Google (I’m financially grateful for this – I rely upon organic search for sales & lead generation purposes).
Gmail – stores the email contact information of every person I have professionally engaged with over the last several years.
Places – physical address and related service information from my businesses, automatically optimised for ‘local’ search from desktop and mobile. And my customer reviews.
YouTube – hosting and syndication of my video communications, including the social engagement layers around each one.
Picasa – hosting and syndication of my business photos & images.
Analytics – sales level conversion numbers which can now be cross-referenced with social action and engagement data from Facebook, Twitter, and of course Google’s own +1.
Much of my online business content and analytics already sits within the Google camp; if they can integrate and overlay the social elements, the Google+ value proposition would increase considerably for me. As it would for any organisation.
I don’t imagine anyone but Google could attempt to set up a social media platform from scratch, for the reason that nobody else has such rich, deep content and metric layers already in place.
If somebody tells you they’re a social media professional, you may well ask them what their specialitist band of social media is. And if you pay for social media in any shape or form – from an employee, consultant or agency – you need to make sure you’re getting the specialist skills you actually need. And don’t believe anyone who tells you they’re across it all: BS!
I’ve listed below the different specialisations you’ll commonly find amongst ‘social media’ professionals. Some folk may be competent at a number of these, but everyone will have varying degrees of strength in each.
Clarifies organisational online objectives, identifies and canvasses opportunities.
Aligns social media objectives with available resources, budget, timeframes and measurables.
Speaks and presents in business terms – not technical or social media jargon.
Delivers actionable plans, reports or recommendations.
Brings insight learnt from personal exposure to past campaign work.
Understands the importance of mapping out a strategy prior to execution.
Proficient at adjusting social media campaign tactics on the fly.
The Content Publisher/ Curator
Inclusive of all forms of multimedia – text, video, images and audio.
Respects the norms of third party content use, reuse, and repurposing, i.e. Creative Commons principles.
Adept at cross-promoting and syndicating content across various social media touchpoints; makes full use of RSS (Really Simple Syndication).
Leverages sharing & recommendation social media functionality to get their content exposed to a cross-section of aligned communities.
The Community Manager
Knows how to build rapport and trust within a community.
Speaks with a distinct, confident and consistent online ‘voice’.
Expects and wants to add more value to the online community pot than they will ever draw from it.
Knows how to effectively utilise ‘older'(!) social media platforms such as YouTube, Flickr, blogging, podcasting, Slideshare or Wikipedia.
The Cutting Edger
Early adopter and experimenter with emerging social media platforms, e.g. Foursquare, Quora, Instagram (or anything new FB rolls out on a frequent basis).
Always looks for the business case – doesn’t buy into the buzz.
The Platform Specialist, typically in one of the following:
Facebook generally, or FB sub-specialties such as campaign execution, business pages, commerce, or external FB functionality.
Locational social media
The Industry Specialist
Not a social media person per se, but adapts quickly to the new channel opportunities.
Knows one industry sector very well, or is possibly a subject matter specialist.
Capable of taking on specialist outsourced social media work, e.g. business blogging, or other social media related publishing.
The Educator/ Trainer
Informs, guides, empowers – doesn’t sell.
Teaches people the hands-on, how-to aspects of social media.
Provides ongoing technological or market updates with the hype-filter on.
The Corporate Presenter/ Trainer
Paints the big picture; puts options on the table with no specific agenda to push.
Can address the pressing business questions of why, rather than just the what or how.
Often assists in bringing social media into an organisation via senior executive or Board level.
Customises Facebook business pages.
Integrates social media functionality across platforms, e.g. universal login’s, sharing and recommendation buttons, commerce.
Focuses on social media generated ‘conversions’ through the organisational website.
Utilises and cross-references onboard analytics from other social media platforms.
I’ve overheard a few souls recently write foursquare off as a sort of ‘creepy’ social media development – “I wouldn’t want people knowing where I am all time time” seems to be their main concern. But for anyone who’s actually looked into foursquare – what it is and how it works – or even better, tried it out first-hand, they’d know there’s some serious business level application under the hood.
Firstly, let me say that I don’t use foursquare to hook up with people – that side of things is not really of much interest to me. What I do like however is expressing my indirect, and sometimes direct, loyalty to physical points of interest – businesses, organisations, gatherings – that I share an affinity with.
I leave tips at business locations that both please me and displease me. I read the tips of others – mini peer reviews – they offer some great insights. I also look at the analytics around the people who have checked into my business locations, and follow them on Twitter if they have a connected account (a large proportion do).
I look at some of the really clever promotions businesses are offering the foursquare community to drive repeat foot traffic into their stores, cinemas, branches, malls, markets, museums and clinics.
I even take some sense of pride in being the ‘mayor’ of my local train station (or at least I did until the title was recently wrenched from me – damn you Naughty J!)
You don’t have to be actively engaged in foursquare to pull business value from it. Every business owner with a physical point of presence should accept, or embrace, the fact that they’re probably on the platform already – people are checking in there now, and patron generated tips – the good, the bad, and the ugly – are starting to flow in now (and be syndicated across to Twitter).
Maybe you don’t want people knowing where you are all time time, but they sure as hell know the street address of your business. Like it or not.
This breakfast address was given by Tim Martin to Melbourne credit union members as part of 2010 International Credit Union Day – 14th October, 2010, Melbourne. [Inspired by Clay Shirky’s ‘How Cognitive Surplus will Change the World’]
So, for the next 45 minutes or so I’ll be talking about Social Media; but rather than look at WHAT social media is, I want to offer some insight into WHY it is. There are many people capable of explaining the mechanics of the bird and the book to you – Twitter and Facebook. But as business operators I believe you’ll all be better off by getting a look at the big picture first. And by better off, I mean more capable of seeing why social media is fast becoming a game changer, and why it will likely become an important and integral part of your collective marketing, communications and research strategies.
I’ve also deliberately gone out of my way to give you some very unusual online examples which we’ll get to shortly. But first, a few quick definitions to set the scene: Mass media – we all know what this is because most of us consume it in volume every day: it’s mostly the output of commercially orientated organisations who own and operate most of the world’s pressing presses, studios, television and radio transmission towers, and theater chains. No conspiracy in this, it’s just a fact.
Mass media content is very public – its publicly accessed and consumed by mass audiences. It’s a one directional flow of content, typically produced on daily, weekly, monthly or seasonal cycles – they produce, we consume. And to the most part mass media content is ephemeral – we throw away yesterday’s newspapers and we don’t record and save most of what we watch or listen to throughout our day. And there’s no need to hold on to mass media content because there’s a fresh production flow which is constantly on tap: new television dramas roll out, 24/7 television news, music played through radio stations or downloadable from iTunes, new books, new magazines, and hot-off-the press newspapers.
Now let me introduce a familiar idea in a new light: the concept of Personal Media.
Personal Media is content – or information – that we create as individuals every day: a telephone conversation, a note on a fridge door, an email, a drawing, a photo or a love letter. Personal media content has traditionally been private – or at least private to a very small group of people: your partner, a friend, your family, your work colleagues or classmates. But in contrast to mass media it tends to be a dynamic two-way process and it’s interactive – I show you a photo and you smile; or you ask me a question and I respond, and you respond to my response and so on – that’s called a conversation. Personal media content is also mostly ephemeral – our talk vanishes into the air, notes are thrown away – in fact most physical media we have traditionally communicated through will eventually decay and be completely lost in time.
Social Media is the cross-over of mass media and personal media. We continue to produce our personal media – conversations, notes, drawings and so forth – except now it’s easier and more efficient to transmit and share our communications with each other through the web – through social networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn, through blogs, Twitter, forums, and wikis.
Simply put, we can communicate with more people within our chosen tribes in real-time, less expensively and with less effort. And easier will always win out over harder given enough time.
But personal media – our formally private content – when passed through the web becomes public content. And to the most part this content is not ephemeral – it’s in digital format and will stay on the web forever – and all of it will be searchable forever – retrieved as easily as typing a few keywords into your favourite search engine. So, what’s behind the creation of this digital content? Why are people uploading images of funny faces to the web or tweeting about Australian credit unions? And all done without a coordinated directive, and no financial incentive. Yet it happens and is happening at an accelerated pace: individuals are collectively creating publicly accessible and sharable content for people they’ve never met, and will probably never meet or even know exist.
There are considered to be 3 main drivers at work here, 3 intrinsic motivations for people to create, publish and share their personal media:
Engagement – the intellectual stimulation the process offers. Many people love problem solving, discovery and creating order.
Attention – look at me. Notice me by association of what I’ve produced.
Reputation – see how much I know; establishing credibility
So let’s pull these ideas together: social media is the interplay between mass media and personal media. People are producing personal content and sharing it with others online because they can, and it feels good to do so: engagement, attention, reputation. These personal media outputs – mundane or funny or profound, it makes no difference – are formally and informally indexed, categorised and made findable thanks to organisations such as Google. And discoverability through networks and active search moves us into some very interesting space: it facilitates connections, connections give rise to communities, and communities foster a sense of collective membership and the potential for uncoordinated social collaboration.
We’ll shortly look at some of the ways these dynamics are playing out. But as interesting as the examples coming up may be, reflect that we’re really only at the online evolutionary equivalent of the steam engine. The next decades will be an extraordinary time for all of us, both from a social and a professional perspective.
And before you ask where these people find the time to create, share and re-purpose the world’s online personal media – well, many of them – myself included – will have simply swapped their passive, isolated TV viewing time for activities which provide richer, more personally rewarding social media based experiences.
In summary I’ll make these points:
The social media genie is out of the bottle – for increasing numbers of people there is no going back to a time of passive, unconnected, one directional information consumption, or being solely reliable on mass media for their leisure time entertainment
Organisations that dismiss social media as a minor blip on the radar or a side distraction are missing the point (big time.) This is a powerful transformative wave – it will be easier and more productive to go with the flow than against it. Ideally your organisations will become valuable contributors within the online social communities who already share the credit union ethos and your reason for being, i.e. membership, and the value that infers.
No-one fully controls corporate messaging any more. Social media runs by it’s own set of rules. And it you don’t like all of this change, well, you’re going to like irrelevancy even less.
Note – NET:101 is running full-day internet marketing & social media workshops in conjunction with the Australasian Mutuals Institute during 2011. Please contact AMI directly for more information.
Marketers are increasingly turning to social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in an attempt to promote their products or services. They are lured by industry success stories showing how social media is helping to increase market share for everything from fashion labels and restaurants through to electronic gadgets.
“The new future of old age is about staying in society, staying in the workplace and staying very connected,” he added. “And technology is going to be a very big part of that, because the new reality is, increasingly, a virtual reality. It provides a way to make new connections, new friends and new senses of purpose.” [Joseph F. Coughlin – Director of AgeLab]
Social network users have been advised to sanitize their personal pages when job hunting, lest potential employers spot an inappropriate photo or comment. But now more personal pages, profiles and social networks are serving as fodder for companies looking to fill jobs.
There seems no part of public, private or commercial life that hasn’t been made more accessible through social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Hospitals are posting videos of surgeries on YouTube and doctors are sending tweets from operating rooms to educate the public and market their services. Those are just the latest examples of media-driven communication in places that used to be relatively private.