The label “social media” has lost its resonance in so far as the concept of “social media” has been reduced to a series of marketing tactics. As David Armano says in a Harvard Business Review blog article:
Let’s start with the challenges — the term “social media” itself is indicative of the state of affairs. “Media” limits our view of the movement, and brings with it the baggage of decades of advertising. Marketers are only too happy to view the social web as a new array of channels to market their goods in some shape or fashion. That’s because it’s a model they’ve used since the beginning.
Armano goes on to essentially say that “social media” represents a fundamental cultural shift. It’s a shift that started many years ago. In 2006, Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing uttered 10 words that embody this shift
Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about.
This sentiment was re-articulated recently by Jay Thompson’s humorous, yet prescient, “Og the Caveman” parable
Back in the day, Og the Caveman would sit around the fire and talk about his day to anyone who would listen. The cave-ladies would roll their eyes while Og recounted his manly adventures, and cave-dudes would all be one upping each other with tales of who speared the bigger Mammoth…They had friends, and followers. There were popular cave-people, and there were annoying cave-people. And everything in between. Just like we have today. Only today we have whiz-bang technology tools to take our socializing and networking planet wide.
Indeed, it’s the technical infrastructure that’s a catalyst to this conversation enflamed cultural shift, most recently embodied by the battle for real-time search dominance. For example, a friend of mine recently commented on the uselessness (to him) of CNN in terms of real-time news and authority where, in the midst of the Mumbai attacks last year, the CNN anchor kept referring to Twitter as the source. Given this, my friend’s legitimate question was (still is) “So why am I wasting my time with you?” As a brand, CNN took a negative body blow.
Brands are not incognizant to this sentiment, this cultural meme, or gestalt-like shift to mine the real-time conversation core, and have launched full-bore social media marketing efforts to be part of the vein. But have these efforts been designed? Again, Armano, is on the money with this post on “filtering” the network economy and this presentation, Social Business By Design,
I especially like slide 23 where he points out an article discussing the concept of having a “Chief Social Media Officer”, which reminds me of turn-of-the-century job descriptions like Chief Electricty Officer and how irrelevant those titles were when electricity became as ubiquitous as air. So at a high-level what’s brand to do, be it a brokerage or agent brand?
As Armano demonstrates brand impressions–positive or negative–occur through many touch points, and as a brand you only have so much control. What you can control is 1) how you listen (through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blog, etc), 2) how you respond via these same channels, 3) what brand “persona” you want to convey via these listening and responding posts, 4) who you put in place to manage this process (are you serious and demonstrate that by hiring the right person for your brand versus having interns manage this process; the former indicates you’re in for the long haul whereas the latter indicates you still consider this cultural change child’s play), 5) architect your tactics by following a “designed” strategy. Here are four places to begin your strategy:
Photo credit: vkurland