Making Sense of the Social Media Mash-Up
By COLLIN CANRIGHT and DOUGLASS DAVIDOFF
Will the new online media—especially social media—converge to become the de facto mainstream media? What must marketers know about social media and how can they provide relevant content in a way that engages customers and prospects?
Making sense of the new media and incorporating its benefits into economic and cultural, civic, and personal life was a motivation for September’s Chicago New Media Summit, held to assert our hometown’s leadership in media both old and new. Three conclusions emerged from the two-day conference to guide how we will look at social media in the near term.
New Tools for Brand Storytelling
First, social media provides a whole new set of branding tools for marketers. On the one hand, it provides a way to promote and define both individual and corporate brands. On the other, monitoring social media is a means of listening to customers and how they talk about and experience your brand.
Speaking at the Chicago New Media Summit, Miguel Gonzalez, creative director-content director, at DraftFCB, noted that marketing with social media consists of “one brand story on many platforms” and therefore requires an integrated approach to tell a brand story, rather than transmitting a media or marketing message.
Based on the conversational model, social media requires marketing to listen as well as talk. Tools are available that allow companies to monitor social media sites from a brand and company standpoint and respond as required, reports Marci Chapman, president of MC2 Enterprises.
Focus on the Individual
Second, social media is fundamentally about people, not organizations. The individual is the basic building block of new media. To a business or a not-for-profit, social media requires building on the gifts and talents as well as personal expressions of individuals within the organization and sharing them with others.
That’s a particularly compelling marketing proposition, as demonstrated by Jason Fried of Chicago-based 37signals, who talked about teaching as marketing at the Chicago New Media Summit. Social media can draw us closer as people as well as sellers and buyers with its ability to engage people through information.
Fostering Live, Interactive Commentary
Finally, social media changes how we relate to people we know. Social media tears down the walls at any meeting or event we attend. Our colleagues, friends, and family are just a mouse click away and we can instantly send them our written observations, pictures, and even live video streams. (We addressed this in a July 2008 feature titled “Thinking Outside the Room.”)
Chicagoland blogging expert Barbara Rozgonyi of CoryWest Media demonstrated the tactic using the social media service Twitter for short “microblogging” updates on blogging and marketing at the Blog World Expo in September. At the same time, East Coast blogger Debbie Weil was the official live blogger at the Inc. 5000 conference in Washington, D.C., with her own Twitter reports on business trends and social media today.
These uses of social media show how it does not so much invite all of us to interact so much as it comes to demand interaction. Combining instant communication, broad ranges of creative expression, and reach to individuals worldwide, social media exploits the social tendencies bred into each person on the planet.
And it will become an increasingly dominant form of media communication. As Mike Samson, co-founder of Chicago’s crowdSPRING remarked, “This is a generation that creates, shares, collaborates, and mashes up like no other.”
This mash-up is the most flexible pathway speaking both broadly and narrowly from me to you, from you to me, from us to them, and from them to us. What could hold more promise for marketing and communications?
To read all of our blog posts from the Chicago New Media Summit, visit Collin’s Onlines blog.