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The Effects of Social Media and New Media on Your Business

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by Andy McCaskey, Principal

Are you keeping Social Media and New Media in separate compartments in strategic and tactical planning?

You could lose traction in both, with the result that you do not get the full benefit from your investment in the rapidly-growing global phenomena of New Media and Social Media.  If you consider these new communications tools as building blocks within important parts of your business engine, your strategic marketing investment will go a lot further. As you align your own New Media processes and activities, you will gain new insight into the maturity of competitors and be able to assess how well they deploy these new tools to strategic advantage.

As I pointed out in my last post, Social Media channels use various internet based platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus (Google+), Pinterest, and Instagram. What information gets shared over various social media platforms?  It is same content and conversations that were shared among friends, business associates, and acquaintances ten, thirty or fifty years ago.  Even if a particular social media (Somed) tool has been available only a few years or months, it is effective because it is  "Word of Mouth" from a trusted source, extended across a social graph with vastly extended geographic and temporal boundaries.

New Media is the slightly grown up superset of Social Media. The New Media version will demand at least a few minutes of attention instead of being consumed in a few seconds.  New Media content is usually a little more rehearsed and structured than the Somed version of the same information or concept, and will stand on its own instead of merely pointing attention to a resource or adding a comment.  It's highly probable that the New Media video, audio, or whitepaper was produced informally on very inexpensive equipment (flipcam, smartphone, consumer camera or microphones), without special sets or lighting. The expense and slow response time of traditional formal application notes,  press releases, or highly scripted and produced corporate videos are out of sync with the clockspeed of today's products and markets.  Even today's product overviews are often distributed on YouTube and embedded in a blog or website for both cost and "time to message" reasons. 

 

Distributing via social media gains attention and offers easy, fast distribution of content.

That means content with value will move very quickly among those who are (no pun intended) "linked in" on the social graph.   The 140 character limit of a single tweet message (tracing its origin to SMS text messaging) has turned into an unlikely accelerator of information flow, giving a boost to concise expression of information value, with a high probability of being “re-tweeted”.   Information in a LinkedIn update or Google+ posting propagates in the same rapid manner, and is selectively forwarded to those with whom you have an explicit “social graph” relationship, plus those who have unilaterally chosen to follow you, with or without your knowledge.

 

Social Media enables users to selectively refine the quality of the information stream that reaches them.

Within Twitter, a simple RT (re-tweet) command allows you to pass along information and vouch for its value. Each time a message is re-tweeted, it's a fresh endorsement. And, if you are on the receiving end of tweets that don't provide that value, a single "unsubscribe" removes you from that information stream.

 

What sorts of content are found on Social Media Channels?

Almost any sort of personal content can be useful in building personal relationships or offer entertainment value, but slip in value from a business point of view. Games, sports teams, school alumni, or participation in internet memes of the latest stupid pet trick or political cartoon are often found on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.  The same content and commentary on Twitter will quickly get you "un-followed"  by most business oriented followers. One of the main advantages of Google Plus is the ability to group Friends or followers into "Circles", and easily separate this sort of content for one target group from materials offered to other that are clearly business relationships.

Business content distributed by social media can refer to products, services, resources, events, or product related promotions. It can take the form of blogposts, links, whitepapers, or application notes for specific issues or tasks. Slideshare presentations, event interviews, and webinar recordings are all examples of content that is often found by link, reference or cross- posting in social media distribution channels.

 

The Critical Role of Authenticity

The key to gaining effective use and re-use of any of this material is found in the concept of authenticity. Authenticity's role in social media draws stems from the ClueTrain Manifesto (http://www.cluetrain.com/ ),  written a decade ago. This manifesto specifically admonishes people to engage with respect and speak with a human voice - the exact opposite of the corporate voice of traditional press release, promotion or datasheet.  That voice will not be loud, boastful and self- promoting, but instead will offer value to the greater community. Authentic voices offer resources and comments that include genuine value in the same way you would offer the information or resource advice in person. Business content offered in this way has high impact and long- term value.

The natural tendency of business communications is to fall back into old patterns. Some enterprises have established formal corporate bloggers with social media quotas such as posts per week, tweets per day or Facebook "Like" metrics. In most cases, the corporate voice re-emerges and the content shifts to total self-promotion - neglecting content like industry trends, opinions of others, awareness of other activities and a dash of just plain fun. The most effective users of social media use an 80/20 or 90/10 ratio for community versus commercial or promotional content.  Those who use Somed strictly for self-promotion and add no other value are usually “unsubscribed” rapidly from the social graph.

 

Content Elements

Somed content is built from content elements, and with care they can be valuable keys to getting more return. Content elements, each with intrinsic value to the community and having an authentic and personal voice, are the building blocks for an exciting way to create, manage, and distribute business content messages. They can be produced, re-used, re-packaged and spun again with increasing value and relevance. A well planned series of tweets with web page links can serve as the basis of a blog post, then discussed with a guest on an audio podcast. The comments from that podcast can be re-packaged as a video snippet tweeted out a few days later, followed by a whitepaper reference on the subject.

Content elements can be used bi-directionally between New and Social Media. For example, New Media can generate content for Social Media delivery. Ninety second fragments of a video interview with a few pithy take-away points and awareness of the extended ten minute discussion fit well - with a Twitter length headline - on Google+, Twitter or Facebook. Conversely, content originally dispersed via Social Media channels can form the basis for interesting and compelling longer New Media content.

With the rise of New Media and Social Media, most organizations now have many un-coordinated "leaky" channels that present an uncontrolled and irregular company image. In addition, many content creators are unaware of the activities or resources of others in the same company who are participating in social media, or the content elements that they produce. Oracle - who views Social Media as one extension of an overall Customer Relationship Management system - notes that the average enterprise has 178 active social media channels.

 

How many Social Media touchpoints (official and un-official) does your company have?

The gains to your business from leveraging Social Media and New Media content can begin only when you've made an assessment of your current strategy and activities and strategy. In our next blogpost, we will talk about the people and things that you'll want to watch.

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