Social is a Behavior, NOT a Channel.
Remember the poster Outlier created for the Seattle Interactive Conference? We were rewarded with conference passes! Ben and I attended the conference in Seattle (fitting for a tech conference) and returned with a wealth of knowledge about the future of mobile, technology, and how these will effect the future of marketing.
Sessions covered SEO, social media, technology, dinosaurs... Here I'll focus on the influence of the web in our purchasing decisions, word of mouth marketing through social networks, and establishing relationships with key influencers/influences.
The Web has evolved from Search Engine to Decision Engine. With a growing number of social media communities, it's clear brand participation on the web is more important than ever. Mass media sales have slowed while the web increases the scale, scope, and speed of "word of mouth" - resulting in a paradigm shift.
How do we make purchasing decisions?
Whether a product or service, the web is a great resource--providing information, advice, and reviews. These reviews are ultimately the social proof justifying a purchase decision. It's important to leverage this arena of feedback to reach key influencers.
Take advantage of what social media tells you, and what it doesn't. So you thought having a Facebook page and Twitter account was enough? Nope. Your fans already know about you. They're users, customers, supporters. But how are you going to attract those who don’t know you?
- Challenge the perception of how businesses use social networks - and offer more.
- Analyze the social layer - who interacts with you, who doesnt? Why?
- Use social listening tools and stay alert for opportunities to provide service or valuable information.
You've collected the data, now what do you do with it? How do you sift through it for understanding? Where should you be involved?
- Places - identify key places the audience is engaged
- People - identify influencers
- Content - identify content themes and access points for engagement
All must be identified to create a successful strategy.
Where to start? Break it down:
- Identify communities and influencers to target.
- What is the level of engagement in the community?
- How many people do they know?
- What kind of impact do their conversations have?
- What topics do people care about most? What characteristics? (Price, quality, etc.)
- What’s the delivery method?
Consumer focused: Pay attention to what the consumer responds to. What content do they value? Does the information come via slide deck? Video? Infographic? Find out how content is consumed and ask, "What do I need to do to gain access to the community?"
This method of social interaction isn't new. All good contacts start out as conversations, and develop into relationships beneficial to both parties.
Remember: social is a behavior, not a channel. It's all about relationships and providing value, NOT selling. Figure out what people need and help them get it.
Social behavior drives everything. From customer service to PR, social behavior has a direct influence in defining your strategy. It informs your approach and drives home the point that content is what's important.
Conclusion: By establishing the places and key influencers of the market, you create an opportunity to engage and provide valuable and relevant information--giving your brand a voice that's not only heard, but one that is considered and able to create a direct connection.