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