Is Social Media Dying?

This post originally appeared on my friend Gini Dietrich‘s blog, Spin Sucks on June 22.  Just thought I’d share it here as well.  You may also want to check out the rebuttal from Jelena Woehr and decide for yourself what side of the question you’re on.  Let me know in the comments below!

I recently read a blog post from Justin Kistner (through SocialFresh) where he theorizes that “social media” will reach its peak by 2012. If social media is dying how can organizations set themselves up for success in this continuously growing and evolving area?

We’ve all read blogs or articles that say “90 percent of social media is just showing up” and we likely know that success in this space can only happen if leadership embraces the strategy and is willing to invest in it. A good friend of mine, Bryan Willmert, gives an example in a post where references Ford is investing 25 percent of its marketing budget in the social web.

He also gives five thoughts on how companies can embrace the social web:

  1. Allocate budget to hire a “Social Media Guru”.
  2. Find the right person for the job (leverage social tools such as LinkedIn or Twitter to find that person).
  3. Work one-on-one with your “Social Media Guru” so they know how to market you (no one knows your business better than you do).
  4. Let them run with it and teach you along the way so you understand where your investment is going and what is coming back.
  5. Keep an open mind and don’t hang on to the ways that you always have done things.

In my perfect world, I’d structure the organization to have a Community Manager who manages a department responsible for the social web and new technologies. (Note: I’m coming from the perspective of a large corporation and this may not apply to smaller companies.)

The people in this role have a working and personal knowledge of how to leverage tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, and CitizenTube for business growth. They use the tools daily and have first-hand experience. They become a knowledge center for the company to educate other departments (c-suite, sales, marketing, customer service, HR, advertising, and PR) on how to best leverage for their area of expertise.

I’ve seen too many examples of companies that “sort of” jump in, because of the pact mentality, and add “social media” to someone’s already full plate.

Now…will this organization exist in 2012 where Kistner’s theory says social media will reach its peak? It may not in its proposed form. The social web, Web 2.0, or “new media” will continue to evolve, but it will be part of how companies are run, no matter what it’s called.

Are you and your organization prepared to evolve with this shift in how we get our information and communicate? Or will you just “sort of” get it?

Old Spice: Instant Case Study on Social Web Success

Absolutely hilarious.  That was my first thought as I started seeing the Old Spice guy make it’s way through my twitter stream yesterday.  Old Spice has taken it to the next level by having Isaiah Mustafa, also known as Old Spice Guy, respond by video to comments on its YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.  What started out with a commercial has quickly turned into an instant case study on how to integrate the social web into a traditional campaign.

I’m always looking for ways to get the ideas and concepts behind the social web accepted.  Case studies certainly help.  The thing I find most interesting, however, is that these concepts really aren’t new.  If you are trying to “sell” a brand to a consumer, the best way to do it is by building relationships with the people you want to buy your products.  This typically means thinking about your consumer first and what their needs are.

If you think about traditional marketing methods, it generally begins with launch planning, big media spending to air a 30 second commercial, billboards, magazine ads, etc.  How can “we” (insert brand here) get our message out to the most people in the quickest way possible?  Oh by the way, we have our website, facebook page and twitter account that we can also use to blast our messages to everyone.

I do believe these still have merit but what I do think is that brands (my company included) need to go back to thinking about what our customers want and not what we want.  I was fortunate enough to sit in a presentation from Jason Falls (Social Media Explorer) today.  One of his final points was for marketers (today’s talk was geared towards GM and its divisions) to think beyond the web.  To me, this meant thinking about coming up with marketing and promotions that integrate all aspects of consumer touch points which includes the social web.

  1. What can we do to help people connect?
  2. What can we do to enhance their online or offline experience?
  3. What can we do to facilitate and encourage sharing?
  4. What can we do to drive them to the showroom?

These were great questions that I hope encourages all of us to go back to the basics of what (I believe) marketing is all about…the consumer.

Technology has given consumers the means to ignore traditional marketing methods today.  Think about the DVR and how many commercials you watch.  What are you Mr. Marketer going to do to not be ignored and get to know the people you want to buy your products?

For another great case study, check out Dave Murray‘s post “Case Study: ‘Salty’ Is My New Hero“.

Turning Vision Into Action

Happy Friday everyone!  It’s hard to believe we are half way through 2010!  Good thing for me, this time of the year usually signals a vacation and I’m so ready!

Anyway, in today’s post, I wanted to give you a quick update on something I talked about a couple of months ago, Detroit Reverse.  If you recall, from August 2 – 6, 500 students and leaders from the City and Suburbs will converge on the campus of Wayne State University.  They will stay in the dorms “with the goal of identifying destructive systems in our culture and building relationships that will fight against them.”

The vision for year one of Detroit Reverse is to build and grow relationships between 2 areas of southeast Michigan that have traditionally been at odds and made assumptions about one another.  The long term vision hopes this can grow into multiple locations over the next 5 years and truly having an impact on the community and the region.

Imagine just how impactful this will be.  500 people united and passionate about something and driving change in a region desperate for it.  Who knows, maybe this might have an impact on my Detroit Lions too!

Now how do you turn vision into action?  Well you can certainly help.  Sponsors are needed to help support our students financially.  It costs $149 per student to experience Reverse.  You can participate by donating online at the Detroit Reverse website.  Please consider helping out this group students by investing in their future.

“Like” Detroit Reverse on Facebook

Follow Detroit Reverse on Twitter

Have a great 4th of July and let’s celebrate our freedom to make an impact.

It’s In Your Hands

I was going through my Google Reader this morning and came across this beautiful post from Seth Godin:

When are you going to start acting like it?

The idea that you are a faceless cog in a benevolent system that cares about you and can’t tell particularly whether you are worth a day’s pay or not, is, like it or not, over.

In the long run, we’re all dead. In the medium-long run, though, we’re all self-employed. In the medium-long run, the decisions and actions we take each day determine what we’ll be doing next.

And yet, it’s so easy to revert to, “I just work here.”

Like most things I read, my mind starts to think.  Yes, I know that’s dangerous.  In a few words, Seth reinforces something that we all know already…we are responsible for making the most of what is given to us.  No other person can really determine our future except us.  Our future is in our hands.

It’s easy for me to feel like the “faceless cog” Seth mentions in his post,  especially working in such a large company like General Motors.  However, it doesn’t have to be that way.  For example, most of you know how passionate I am about the internet, technology and especially the social web.  Although I don’t have responsibility for it at work, I’ve made it my hobby and brought it into my everyday life through my Twitter feed, Facebook, and this blog.  The work has paid off.  I’ve made some great connections with people in the social web community, been recognized as knowledgeable in the space by my peers and recently guest blogged on my friend Gini Dietrich‘s blog, Spin Sucks.  Other opportunities to guest blog have recently come and I plan to take advantage of those too.

My point in all of this is that the Social Web gives you a voice when you may have thought you don’t have one.  Networking, building relationships, providing value, etc. are ways you can build your own community.  The challenge is being patient enough to build your community and look for those opportunities to do what you love and are passionate about.

“If you build it, they will come.”  It’s in your hands.

Build Your Community and Embrace It!

Over the past week, thoughts of “community” have been racing around my head.  This started when I heard a podcast with Dave Murray (@davemurr) and Sarah Worsham (@sazbean) talking about the social web and community.  It’s well worth the time and I highly recommend you listen HERE.  I’m a big fan of takeaways and there were 8 that resonated with me after hearing Dave speak.

  1. Don’t build community around your product
  2. Communities are based off of needs and passions
  3. Communities are wrapped around people and communication…product is secondary
  4. True community is allowed to grow through its own organic process
  5. The Social Web is a long term strategy…word of mouth and action happening off line
  6. Introductions are made online but meaningful connections happen in real life (confirmed by Scott Stratten, @unmarketing, today)
  7. Communities cultivate brand loyalty (see Joseph Jaffe, @jaffejuice)
  8. Putting a face / personality to a company allows for a deeper connection

What does this all mean?  To me, if you can develop and embrace a community, you’ll be able to mobilize a group of people around a common interest and take action.  Tools like Google Alerts (thanks Gini Dietrich), Facebook and Twitter allow this conversation to happen immediately.  Why not leverage them to listen to your audience and provide a value to your growing community?  If companies and organizations saw the social web as a long term investment instead of another platform for one-way communication, I’m confident they would ultimately see the ever popular ROI they long for.

I was fortunate enough to meet Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver) last week, founder of the 140 Conference Series.  His visit to Detroit was to kick off the planning for the conference to make its way to the Motor City on October 20th.  I’m honored to be part of the team to help bring it here and put Detroit on the national stage for 2 days.  Since then, Jeff has mentioned on many occasions that he believes this conference will be special because of the people and the spirit he’s encountered in his brief visit.  I think if you asked any of us that got to hang out with him, this is another extension of the energy we felt after the Future Midwest Conference earlier this year.  There is a community of people that live in metro Detroit that want to help turn this region around and make it a national destination.  The opening video from Future Midwest still gives me chills.  Watch it below to see what I mean.

The final thought I’ll leave you with is this.  The social web is about one thing and one thing only…people.  There is not magic tool or “trick” to be successful at it.  As long as you have a personality and value the people you’re CONVERSING  WITH, you’ll have success.

Your turn.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  Have a great week!

I Love Real Life Examples

Today’s post focuses in on brands who are integrating the social web in their marketing efforts.  The first example is Levi’s.  If you go to their Friends Store, you’ll see Facebook “Like” buttons on the page.  You’ll also see some other familiar Facebook applications seen throughout the web.  Brilliant if you ask me.  What a great way for Levi’s to see what jeans are popular among their community of followers!  Levi’s now has a focus group of 342,642 (as of 6/9/2010) at their disposal!  Genius!

Another example can be found in a post from familiar friend to Salt & Light, Bryan Willmert.  In his latest blog, he takes a look at Vitamin Water and what they did to crowd source a new drink flavor.  Again, a great example of a brand leveraging its already established fan base and providing them what they want.

One final thing I’ll leave you with is an article I read earlier this week from Internet Retailer.  “Finding the Right Measure” highlights some companies that have taken advantage of the opportunities the social web provides.

The ideas that could be brought to my job have already been stirring in my head.  It’s my challenge now to figure out a way to get people to hear me out (aka “squeaky wheel”).  As my new Twitter friend, Carol Roth (@caroljsroth), told me this morning,  “You go get that oil!”