I get that question from many of my clients and prospects, so I thought I would start defining how I view social media for businesses. It’s not really about media, or least how most people think about media which is usually delivering the message in one direction. Social media about conversations, permission, dialogue, information, sharing, attention, engagement, participation, communication, enthusiasm, passion and being authentic — using technology as vehicle. It’s not about using a fire hose to blast your message out to an audience that never asked to be interrupted as Seth Godin is fond of saying. Social media is about actively listening to your audience to determine what they are interested in, then engaging them by providing a platform so you and your audience can converse, share, participate with each other.
Let see how some other people define social media. The Common Craft group had a nice video which told a story about a little town’s affinity for ice cream combined with new technology can spark new informational interactions. I just wish that the community had first asked more than the three flavors and the big bad ice cream company had refused. Another good example is from Peter Kim who defined social media as “Interaction between a company and individual via [digital] delivery channels, intended to share commercial content that will lead to a sale and/or be passed along to others.” To take it a step further, I would add “the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals.” One of the best slide shows I have seen about social media is from Marta Kagan, though her title is a slightly more risque than mine. She exhibits an boatload of passion in her messages as she explains that social media is not a fad and the longer companies wait to get on board — the more business you will lose.
In the days to come, I break down some of the components of social media, best practices, my social media stories, social media implementations and maybe a little about where I see it going.
December 11th, 2008 in Research by Olivier Sartor