It’s been 1 year since I joined Twitter, my biggest step forward into social media. As a solo PR, I’ve learned a lot about networking, marketing and SM such as the fact that Twitter is Work.
First of all social media is not new, but rather a “new” term. Do a search and you will find a number of definitions for social media using key terms such as “conversation,” “two-way” “relationships” and “Web 2.0” as well as plenty of how-to tips.
Social Media is:
- Public. Anyone can see it, and even if you’ve taken it down, Google remembers. Not sure how many of us eavesdrop on private conversations in elevators or restaurants, but participation in the discussion–from inside, outside, all sides–is what social media is supposed to be about. Anyone can join, follow, post and share right out in the open.
- Broadcast (a la open mike at the Punchline). Beyond traditional media outlets, content is published or distributed by someone, and it’s not necessarily you. Employees, customers, bloggers; anyone
can produce and disseminate content about your brand, product or service. These brand advocates or detractors can write about your brand with considerable impact; “influence is made not born.”
- Example. When traveling I always look at consumer review of hotels. On TripAdvisor, which has been around for years, people post ratings, reviews, pictures and videos about their brand experiences. Consumers rate not only the product or brand (hotel), but also the review itself, save reviews, reach out to other travels. Because of that influence, brands can and do answer those posts.
- Multi-directional. I read and hear that public relations or social media is “2-way communication” but I disagree. It’s in all directions simultaneously. A company posts a blog or YouTube video, or a blogger writes about a brand or product. Consumers then read, review and comment; others can then repost, comment, post a new blog, rate, share that blog. What starts at the brand can go 30 different places all at once; or what starts with one irate customer with a following can land on the brand’s doorstep via “viral” exposure.
- Multi-channel. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, et. al. are the tools, but only part of an overall SM strategy and marketing plan. Your blog may be the hub of your social media network, but you still got to extend outside your SM comfort zones and work your social media program across other marketing channels.
- Active. Any definition of social media practices includes a long list of action verbs: research, write, produce, share, post, listen, create, engage, monitor, participate. It’s not a “set it and forget it” program; it’s for doers. Social media is an on-going process that requires commitment and a system for success.
- Not the only game in town. Last year Beth Harte wondered what we’d do if networks like Twitter and LinkedIn Just. Shut. Down. Would your marketing and networking stop? Of course not. Social media has to work with your other efforts, grow from them, reinforce and invigorate them. The tools are just that, tools (#4). Social media is not the silver bullet, won’t fix a bad product or brand.
- Dynamic. It is shifting, changing, transitioning evolving and mutating; but it is not going away any time soon. Social media is “here to stay;” so is Twitter. The next big frontier is Mobile and it’s already here. New tools are launching all the time, offering new services and improved ways to use the old ones.
I haven’t settled on a definition yet, but like porn I do know social media when I see it.