A ‘de-hyped’ social media guide to rock your business in 2009

3 01 2009

www.greenprinteronline.com dispatch.

The verdict is in from the top social media honchos: social media isn’t just a fringe benefit to add as a complementary side dish to your regular marketing plan – it is your main marketing plan for 2009.

Case in point. Etsy.com, branded by the New York Times as a cross between Amazon.com, eBay and “your grandmother’s basement” has over 100,000 sellers worldwide and had online buyers spend $4.3 million purchasing 300,000 items in November 2007.

What is interesting is that Etsy has intentionally avoided big glossy ads in magazines in favour of seller-created street teams and video content to pull off the best, tried-and-true marketing strategy of all: word of mouth (WOM).

Speaking about the marketing guffaws made by established brands, Noah Brier, a strategist at Naked Communications, says that, “…they’ve lost their sense of what they stand for…what these [Web 2.0] companies have in common is an absolute understanding of who they are.”

And, as companies continue to refer and use the internet as a static space, as opposed to an increasingly dynamic and socially driven space, they continue to miss out on opportunities to get under the skin of their most valued communities (note: I did not say ‘customers’ or ‘consumers’ here).

Rob Kalin, founder of Etsy, nicely sums up the internet branding “pseudo-engagement” mistake made by lagging companies: “our brand grows with a thousand different focal points, rather than one big mono voice of ‘Here’s our brand, come engage with us‘.”

For those marketers and business owners who have given the Twitter, Facebook and YouTube euphoria any serious thought will know that any sweeping, “these tools will uniformly displace those tools” claims have its disclaimers. And social media certainly has its own line of disclaimers.

Take a look at Barack Obama’s internet strategy.

Obama’s sexy, celebrity-endorsed Yes We Can video got over fifteen million YouTube hits and the immediate, but not entirely accurate observation, is that user-generated content on video social networks is positioned to replace television as the dominant medium for influencing voters.

But, as Andrew Keen says it best in “Keen on New Media: Did the Internet elect Barack Obama?“: what has also been forgotten is that user-generated videos on YouTube didn’t determine Obama’s victory.

Instead, the “break, edit and shatter” ability afforded by the everyday citizen did.

As Keen sums up, what isn’t so revolutionary (and rather spirit dampening to some) about the current social media environment is that mainstream videos from sources such as CNN, CBC and the New York Times continue to be the subjects of the most trusted, watched and distributed YouTube content.

But, what is truly new and at the heart of what social media is actually doing to change the current communication environment is that internet users are “becoming their own editor [emphasis added] in their own time and in their own personalized media environment – thus shattering mainstream media into a hundred million pieces. But Americans are still relying on the core authoritative content of mainstream media to make sense of the election.”

Moreover, as Keen points out, what was rarely spoken about after Obama’s win is that the respected Chicago senator spent years forging relationships as a volunteer on the streets of Chicago with everyday citizens, wealthy elites and political movers like Joe Biden in the “classically analog environments of the US Senate”, as much as the Blackberry addict cultivated thousands of Facebook ‘friends’ prior to his nomination.

An online network does not come from nowhere and the most potent ones can usually be traced to a strong, on the ground history. The lesson here? As a business owner, take your colleagues out for lunch, scour your existing email contact databases, that of your employees and even those of some of your most loyal customers or partners (with their consent, of course).

Then, go directly to the ‘opinion leaders’ or more fittingly, the most ‘popular kids’ on Facebook, LinkedIn and Orkut that you know and persuade them to invite their networks. Then, invite users from Craigslist according to their interests or speak with Facebook Group administrators – the opportunities are endless.

Give the networks time (approximately six months) to incubate and grow – expect a conservative 10% response rate for 90% of the social network ‘lurkers’ out there (e.g. for every 10,000 people you invite, know that only 1,000 will actually join your network).

Yes, you got it: learning to use social media still requires, much like that New Year’s resolution to cut out fudge and lift weights, daily discipline.

But, now, here is the fun part. As you read these useful guides by social media marketers who have been in the trenches (and some just really, really good observers), create your own social media ‘wish list’ and speak to your IT department on how to make it happen.

1. Adam Ostrow in “Data: What are the Benefits of Social Media Marketing?” on how you can convince your boss (this could be yourself) to use social media marketing.
2. Robin Good‘s “Social Media Predictions (Part II)”. I love this post. Good is actually suggesting some new strategies yet to be fully played with and upcoming tools to keep your eye on.
3. Matthew Bredel‘s short, sweet and to the point “Web 2.0 Tools and Making Money Online” article.
4. Finally, if all this social media talk sounds like it will be messy, Leo Babauta of Mashable comes to the rescue with “HOW TO: Simplify”.

Want to know how much greenhouse gas, trees and wastewater you can save by using affordable, eco-friendly paper products? Find out and keep track of your organization’s environmental savings today by adding Green Printer’s Eco-Calculator widget code to your blog, Facebook or website.


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4 responses to “A ‘de-hyped’ social media guide to rock your business in 2009”

4 01 2009
Green Printer Blog » The real world social media guide to rock … | thesocialmediasecrets (01:27:24) :

[…] More:  Green Printer Blog » The real world social media guide to rock … […]

4 01 2009
Green Printer Blog » The real world social media guide to rock … | organicsocialmedia (15:17:03) :

[…] Excerpt from: Green Printer Blog » The real world social media guide to rock … […]

19 03 2009
video conferencing setup (23:29:19) :

I enjoyed reading your post; I am running a small website on video conferencing I am a beginner in this business. I don’t know much about it but I am searching around for material that can increase my knowledge

21 04 2009
Claire Blackburn (10:58:03) :

You may be interested in checking out the agenda of the upcoming Spring Technology Conference in June, as “Social Networking” is the subject of the keynote address: http://www.psda.org/events/STC/agenda.aspx

The presentation will cover how social media is changing how we do business, strategies for turning social networking into ROI, how to attract buyers, etc. This is just one of the many relevant sessions that will be covered at the Spring Technology Conference, which was developed to educate professionals in the print industry on new technologies and how to adopt them in order to grow their businesses.

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