Theoretical and empirical findings on the use of social media marketing

As many of you may know, I was part of a great panel organized by Marc with JP Holecka (PowerShifter Media) and Shane Gibson (Knowledge Brokers International) with a fourth panelist, Tris Hussey (M2O) who kindly liveblogged. I am not going to really recap the event itself, as Tris did a fantastic job of liveblogging.

What follows is an unedited crib of my talk. I am also including my slides on SlideShare. As usual, the Creative Commons License is Non-Commercial, Attribution, Share-Alike. Please include a link to this blog post AND to the SlideShare site if you use my concepts/work/ideas. Thanks!

The crib starts here.

Good evening everyone. I am very honored to be sitting in a panel with excellent colleagues, who have accumulated substantial business savvy. It’s hard for me to speak after Shane Gibson, who is a phenomenal speaker. He is a hard act to follow. I was hoping I would be the last, but since I am in the middle, I just need to hope that you enjoy my talk, as I am 100% sure you WILL enjoy JP’s.

I will admit that my research has focused primarily on environmental issues and environmental public policy. I took up blogging as a hobby, and since I started (2006) I have experimented with social networking sites and social media tools enough that I now give consulting and advice on social media. I give this advice from the perspective of an academic who is very interested in human behaviour, not only in environment and sustainability, but also in regards to the impact of the Internet in society.

Slide 2 – As I was thinking through and finding the elements that connect my scholarly research with my social media consulting, I found a key insight. I am primarily interested in networks and the actors that comprise these networks, the flow of information amongst the nodes (or actors) and the ultimate outcomes of networked behaviour. I have in my research studied networks of environmentalists, as well as transnational coalitions of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs). Therefore, since I recently found out that the basic framework of my interest is the networked society, I have begun to study business networks and public policy networks. As a side note, I am very familiar with the literature on polycentric governance and policy networks, and with social network analysis (both the quantitative and qualitative elements).

Moreover, realizing that I was interested in the networked society has been on the back of my mind for over 10 years. I just hadn’t realized until recently how it connects both of my interests (environmental policy and social media). As Slide 2 shows, we live in a networked society, where we are no longer isolated, and we don’t live 9am-5pm lives. Nothing is purely private, and the boundary between private and public lives blurs. Given that business is all about networking, why not use the networking tools the right way?

Slide 3 – As this slide shows, and aptly within the fact that I am giving this talk on Easter Monday, I can show you how well connected Jesus was in this social network of the New Testament. Everything in society is networked and everything now is connected by electronic means. We are ALL connected to The Matrix.

Slide 4 – Coming back to what I mentioned before, the flow of information in social networking sites has 4 important properties:

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Durability
  3. Traceability
  4. Scalability

If you think hard about the implications of each one of these properties, you can very well apply them to your business setting. You need to be reciprocal. If somebody talks to you, answer back. Remember that the information that you put out there, stays on the internet for a really long, long time. So think before you hit “Publish”! Remember that the information you put out there can easily be traced back to you, and that once information flows publicly, it may escalate and you will never be able to put a lid on it, ever.

Slide 5 – These are some quick-and-dirty lessons for you on how to make the most of the properties of information flow in social networking sites for business. Apply some of these lessons to your own business and let me know how it went.

Slide 6 – The following six rules are the basics of what I call Social Media For Business 102. That is, once you’ve mastered the basics of blogging, Twittering, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc., you can move on to these lessons. In short, here are my top 6 rules of applying social media to business:

Rule # 1 – Not everything that is on the internet is true, so don’t follow every single online social media fad. Anybody remember Plurk? No? Neither do I.

Rule # 2 – Not everything that is on the internet is false, so beware of social media mistakes that may affect you negatively. Monitor your brand, and make sure that whatever statements people are making about you are actually true, otherwise, be quick to debunk them. And if they are true, and you made a mistake, apologize and fix it!

Rule # 3 – Be a human out there, even if you are behind a corporate brand. Don’t just push your own agenda, give people something to work with. Make sure that people know that people know that you are a Brandividual (as I mentioned in a previous post, referring to Kate Trgovac‘s excellent talk where she described the concept of Brandividual and spoke about a few excellent ones). I indicated a local example of brandividual with the folks of Build Direct (Rob Jones, Jeff Booth, and mostly, everyone at Build Direct ). I mentioned a Canada-wide example with Bryan Cox, Fergie Devins, Tonia Hammer and Adam Moffat from Molson (whose work in Brew 2.0 was very well enhanced with the amazing expertise of David Jones and Meghan Warby from Hill & Knowlton). Shane mentioned Zappos as an example of a global group of brandividuals.

Rule # 4 – Give back, give a little, get back a lot. Sponsor events, give out gift certificates, demonstrate loyalty to your customers and a genuine care for them. This will pay off handsomely, trust me.

Rule # 5 – Don’t be a one-night-social-media-stand. Just… don’t. If you are going to delve in social media, commit to it. Don’t romance bloggers and then ditch them. This is a really bad idea. Hell hath no fury like a blogger scorned. Trust me. I KNOW. As I mentioned already, Molson did a fantastic job with Hill & Knowlton on Brew 2.0 and it was a winning case study in blogger relations!

Rule # 6 – Be a good business through-and-through. No matter how good your social media marketing is, if you are not providing a good product and/or service, you are definitely going to fail. Good customer service and great products and services are the key to success. Engagement is key.

Slide 7 – You can read my recount of Brew 2.0 (and those of my fellow bloggers, all of them are linked on my post) for a quick-and-dirty of why it was so successful and why they remain successful.

Slide 8 – A local example of good brand monitoring and reputation management is Doolins (who by the way is a client of Shane’s). They followed up on my complaint and made me feel valued as a customer. Brownie points to them!

Note – during my talk I spoke about #amazonfailI have a blog post about it so I won’t repeat what I said (Slide 9). Just know that it’s a good example of the importance of brand monitoring and crisis management. People should have learned the lesson with the case of Motrin Moms (although, of course, and as I have mentioned before, not every issue galvanizes public opinion thus launching mobilizations and activism – see the case of net neutrality!)

Slide 10 – These are some quick and dirty suggestions on how to use Twitter for business. Simply put, offer your audience information about your business in a way that is engaging and valuable. Don’t make Twitter etiquette faux pas. On that topic, next month’s Vancouver Blogger Meetup will be about etiquette. Join our meetup. It’s fun. Also, if you want to learn a lot about social media, join the social media meetup, Third Tuesday. You can contact my good friend Tanya Davis if you need more information on Third Tuesday.

Slide 11 – So, a few quick, last minute thoughts. I know I’ve already over-stayed my welcome, but I want you to know that if you do social media, you should go multi-platform. Only blogging won’t do you much good unless you use some of the other platforms. Ensure that you monitor your brand, there is Google Alerts and Summize/Twitter Search. Be bi-directional and reciprocal. I have preached this very, very frequently on my blog. I even touched on the importance of bi-directionality for Canadian politicians!

Most importantly, don’t be afraid of testing and experimenting with social media. Skittles failed miserably in their experiment, and see… they are still in business! So don’t worry about it. Just try it! And, as I mentioned in my talk, even if you live your life online, take it offline. Engage. Be real. And if you have questions – ASK!

EDIT – I had come across this report before, and JP just tweeted recently about it, so I am linking to it – a report on social media marketing.

Related posts:

  1. Social Media Club Vancouver launch
  2. On the need for higher-level, philosophical, theoretical social media discussions
  3. Measuring influence in social media (the Klout score)
  4. My recent Social Media Club Victoria talk: “Towards an Action-Focused Agenda for Social Change Using Social Media” (#smcvictoria) @smcvictoria
  5. On the relationship between mainsteam media, social media and academia 1: Mainstream media and social media’s complex relationship

Comments (3)

AdamApril 15th, 2009 at 9:18 am

Great stuff, Raul. We’re grateful for the mentions throughout! So true what you say about not following every social media fad. Personally, I think there is a tendency in marketing environments to reach for the next big thing and constantly innovate. We’ve tried to have the discipline to stick to what’s working and resist the urge to get into new channels and technologies without a sound objective in mind.

Keep up the good work!

Adam’s last blog post..NMP’s Second Luncheon: What an Honour!

Robert SanzaloneApril 15th, 2009 at 9:20 am

Excellent post / presentation Raul. Well done.!

Nevaeh GreenMay 2nd, 2010 at 9:19 am

i have tried social media marketing for getting our new products to be known on the market. it seems to work well specially if the audience is targeted ,

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