2009 – The Year of Going Social

by Beverly Macy on January 7, 2009

Businesses Join the Social Media Conversation
By: Beverly W. Macy and Troy A. Peterson

It’s almost 2009, and for years, marketers have talked about ‘listening’ to the consumer. At the same time, Web 2.0 tools have been springing up that enable conversations to take place AMONG consumers. That conversation has evolved into video, picture, text, audio files…and can be shared and passed on. Blogs, podcasts, YouTube, Twitter, Wikis, and social networks are the tools used to engage in this conversation with one another. Clearly, a fundamental shift in the way we communicate has occurred.

The bad news for business? You’re late. The good news? You’re not too late. It’s true that many of the innovators and early adopters out there are screaming that you’re going to be out of business in three months if you don’t hop on the social media bandwagon today. Not true.

If your doors are still open during the current economic conditions, you’re doing something right and you’ll continue to be open next year. That said, your customers and clients are out there. And they are communicating. Online social media gives you the opportunity to be a part of that conversation and more importantly to steer it.

The future is not about technology, it’s about people.

Fact is, most businesses haven’t even thought about social media as a viable part of their marketing mix – until now. We think the adoption curve is a lot like the growth of websites in 1999. Do you remember when having a business Web site was novel, and then suddenly one day became critical? That’s what’s happening with Social Media. It’s just beginning to hit the corporate radar screen as a part of an integrated marketing plan.

Social Media practioners would be surprised at what’s holding businesses back. Product managers and reputation management executives are worried about policy, privacy, and lack of control. They are puzzled by the openness and the transparency that is the currency of social media. Most of them don’t even know what RSS feeds are or how to use them, let alone how to launch a blog. The practioners can point to a survey from eMarketer, November, 2008, that says that “Customer Engagement” is the #1 reason to companies launch social media campaigns.

But, clearly, not everyone is an early adopter. “Fast-Follower” is a perfectly legitimate strategy… with these caveats: 1) Don’t wait too long to get your feet wet (at the very least have everyone in your organization begin “listening” to the conversation and report what they’re hearing); and 2) be prepared to catch up fast.

Bottom line is that companies will be successful in ‘going social’ not because they were first, but because they’re paying attention. Then, when no one is looking, they’ll catch up fast, and could even take the lead.
About the Authors:
Troy A. Peterson is located in Stillwater, Minnesota. He is a social media consultant and co-founder of www.nibipedia.com. You can follow Troy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/troyapeterson.

Beverly W. Macy is located in Beverly Hills, California. She teaches Social Media Marketing at UCLA and blogs about it here www.smmucla.blogspot.com. She is also Managing Partner of Y&M Partners LLC. You can follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beverlymacy

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Randy Ksar January 7, 2009 at 9:10 pm

you’re very true in that businesses are slowly starting to ramp up on hiring social media evangelists and then spreading it around the company. It is amazing when employees get to take to the people that use their products. Back in the olden days it was just customer support or executives and maybe focus groups if you had money, know customers are proactively blogging and looking at companies to find them on the web.

Also, what is still unclear is in a corporate world of measurement how do you know if that person is doing their job and that it helps the business. 2008 showed a lot more social media monitoring and measuring companies so I expect a 2009 increase towards the 1st half and then consolidation of those companies towards the later part of ’09. Great blog and look forward to more posts.

hoong yee lee krakauer January 8, 2009 at 12:31 am

yes, i am late to the party, the meeting, the gathering, the hovering and just dashing through the door pulling my “fast follower” t shirt over my head as i slide into home. i try to cover as much social media landscape as humanly possible and i am always surprised to see that my individual efforts actually foster change in attitude of the people around me. it is the most encouraging and effective tool of perceptual management – “if i can do it, you can do it”. thanks for reminding us that its all about people, the people who don’t mind stumbling while learning something new and the people we inspire. thanks for a great post.

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