2009 Lessons Learned: Social Media Isn't a Task, It's a Priority
By, Aamir Syed, Assistant Account Executive, Fusion LA (@taacit)
Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell. − Seth Godin
As the year comes to an end, it is time to put the whole year into perspective in terms of social media. This year, social media became incredibly relevant, both personally and professionally. Managing Twitter accounts for clients started as a simple task that would take 20-30 seconds a few times a day. But, with the evolution of platforms like Twitter and Facebook, it was no longer a quick task on the list of things to do every day. Instead, social interactions became a planned method of attack – and much to my surprise – a priority.
Some thousand followers and tweets later, I can’t help but take a quick look back on what could be learned going into 2010, as social media will soon rule the world. Case in point, Ashton Kutcher is on the front of Fast Company this month with the tag line “Follow Me.”
Ashton is the most followed person on Twitter, the first to reach one million, etcetera and etcetera. But what Ashton has to say about Twitter and where social media is going is something to be lauded. Still remembered for making Justin Timberlake cry, Kanye West run like he shot someone, and playing the infamous stoner, Michael Kelso; Kutcher aims to be this generation’s first media mogul by building his own brand with one remaining constant; his name.
Just take note at some of Ashton’s numbers. He currently has 4 million plus followers on Twitter and 3 million plus fans on Facebook. It’s estimated that for every 10,000 fans a brand or fan page has, it will reach an estimated 1.5 million people. Do the math. Every time Ashton updates his status, he could potentially reach over 600 million people across both mediums.
At this point, it’s no longer an advertising campaign or an interactive idea. It’s a whole new marketing technique…and it all starts with influence.
Enter Seth Godin. “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”
Brands aren’t just making candy bars or soda to sell you, anymore. Brands are telling a story, participating in conversations and are a part of a more personal and social message.
For our clients, we have to understand that we can’t instantly become the center of attention in a medium that is so enormous. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can do that over night. And yes, many skeptics believe that social media is just “hype.” But in all honesty, I truly think there is too much to lose without a plan of action.
A recent study featured on AdAge states that 73% of Fortune 100 companies registered a total of 540 Twitter accounts; but a staggering 76% of those accounts rarely post and just over half were inactive.
For brands, Twitter isn’t about how many followers you can get;. it’s about what you say and do to educate the followers you have. Simply put, it’s an easy way of pushing your key messages, and displaying a positive image of your brand. And you can do that in a number of ways, but I’ve learned that there is only one right way to do it: actively.
Not only should you be listening and seeing what people are saying about your brand, but you should participate. You have to constantly be talking (tweeting) with your followers, sharing the opinions of the brand (company). If somebody is complaining about how a product stopped working via Twitter, it is easy to turn the other way and act as if you never saw it. But. there’s greater power in reaching reach out, investigating the problem and attempting to resolve the issue. Not only does the original owner of the complaint see your efforts, but so do the rest of your followers – further emboldening a positive brand image.
Godin suggests an easy explanation for why social media is scary and difficult for many organizations and companies. “It’s a process, not an event,” he says. “Dating is a process. So is losing weight, being a public company and building a brand. On the other hand, putting up a trade show booth is an event. So is going public, and having surgery. Events are easier to manage, pay for and to get excited about. Processes build results for the long haul.”
It’s not going to happen over night, but it’s a process that if planned effectively, can truly provide immeasurable results for a brand. Our job is to first create the voice and character of your brand to interacting with your audience. Your social media PR campaign needs to do more than say you got a good media hit. It has to engage your audience to want to learn more, understand your message, and then carry it for you. They have to believe in your brand and understand that there’s more to it than just products or services.
After all, Ashton isn’t making anything. He’s just telling stories…that could touch 600 million people. We can keep making “stuff” but we definitely need to start telling more stories.