Social Media 09 – An Overview
The Social Media conference on 12th November covered many interesting topics on social media. The format with many presenters and focusing mainly on case studies made this a dynamic event and gave a broad picture of the domain. New Media Knowledge was there to bring you the highlights of the event. This is the first article of a series that will explore the topics that were discussed during the conference.
By Magda Hercheui
Some consensuses emerged from the Social Media 09 event:
Combination of media: Marketing and branding should combine both social media and more traditional communication channels. Social media cannot substitute other channels completely. So professionals need to understand how to explore the potential of each channel, for specific products and services, and in accordance with their objectives.
Doing more with less money: Social media offers a broad platform of free-of-charge tools – for instance Facebook and Twitter. Companies can use these tools to rebuild their brand and maintain a conversation with their target audience, without significant expenditure. Many presenters emphasised the cost effectiveness. However it is necessary to consider the different features and potential usage of each individual tool.
Keep the flow: Social media is about keeping the conversation going, but the flow of this conversation should not be too frequent. Too much conversation and people stop listening. Also companies should not give too much content in one go; delivering small pieces of information over a period of time will bring better results. Keep in regular contact, but do not spam: people are overwhelmed with information and will not take your message if they cannot see value on it.
It is ‘conversation’: Presenters emphasised the idea that the use of social media for marketing and branding is not the traditional one-flow communication. In a conversation, companies need to be prepared to listen and answer the customers or community members. Criticisms must be accommodated and answered. Customers are learning how to organise themselves and finding channels of expression independently of companies, and companies need to be able to keep the conversation with whoever is talking about them in the virtual spaces. Companies lose a great deal of control in the social media environment which is inherent to the medium.
Learning curve: Social media is emerging. Professionals are finding their way and discovering how to do things in these environments. There is not such a thing as one-size-fits-all in social media. Two lessons from this perspective: First, be careful about those that declare themselves social media experts, as we are all still looking for best practices and you may need to do something new to suit your client and objectives; second, be bold and try it, then be quick to observe what is working or not and move rapidly. Speed is an essential fundamental of the social media environment.
Bottom line: Customers are more demanding in their expectations. The company needs to be prepared to face this situation and invest at an operational level to deliver better services and products. People can now shout their dissatisfaction very loudly through social media, with potential damage to the reputation of companies.
Creativity: Marketing and branding is about good creations. Social media has not changed that. Presenters explored many case studies in which the results came through the impact of creativity. A good piece of creative marketing can be accepted and diffused through social media.
Reputation: Companies need to monitor their reputation on the Internet. There are already an increasing number of tools to do this. Presenters were however concerned about adopting quantitative and qualitative tools, and about the simplifying and representation of very complex and huge amounts of data. Even the smaller groups within the crowd may be relevant to your business in terms of maintaining a good reputation.
New cognitive processes: Social media is bringing new ways of thinking, of understanding the world, and of doing. Naturally there is resistance in some segments of society, and also among professionals and companies. Some presenters revealed the difficulty of diffusing their new ideas. Professionals need to work more on the communication of the new values and techniques to bring more players to their field. Professionals may explore more the measurement of outputs and achievements in order to show the impact of social media.