Brain Vibe

marketing muses to stay engaged

You Don’t Have to Get Social Media, You’re Doing It

My 9 year old daughter watches as I write blogs, check my stats, and ponder what others are saying and doing.  While writing this morning, she is peaking over my shoulder and says, “I really don’t get social media.”  I had to laugh because she is immersed in social media.

B2B social mediaShe doesn’t think about what she is doing as new, different, or leading.  She blogs to tell friends and family what she is up to.  She is obsessed with Webkinz and all the things she can do in Webkinz World (I recently found out she has a boyfriend there, YIKES!).  She is plugged in to her Ninetendo DS and sits with friends connecting through a game.  Her goal is to get a cell phone when she turns 10 so that she can text with friends – we’ll see.  She doesn’t have to get it.  She just does it.

You may think that as B2B marketers and salespeople you are lagging behind your B2C brethren. I think that is wrong.  The foundations of social networking and communities already exist within your websites, trade associations, and professional associations.  You have a captive media audience with your analysts.  You also have existing media assets that you determined work. And, believe it of not, you are already doing it.

Here’s an example of social media in action during 2001.  I worked for a computer software company that had it’s own solutions as well as a large partner network.  The dot com bubble burst and our event budget was significantly scaled back.  However, we still wanted to have interaction with customers as well as fulfill our partnership obligations through joint marketing and sales efforts. Our solution was to combine webinar, conferencing, and forum capabilities to create a virtual conference.  The virtual conference mimicked live conferences with tracks, product showcasing, break-out sessions, as well as pre-scheduled customer meetings for demos and solution discussions.  We promoted it the way we would our other conferences, but there was no charge for the event. The event was highly successful both in attendance, interaction, and initiating or closing business even as the technology platforms were in an early stages of capabilities and usage.

A hidden benefit to the virtual conference was we now had an extensive asset library.  Webinars, flash demos, white papers, and forums that could be converted to FAQs as well as kept open for further community building and interaction.  It also pushed us to test new technologies and work out some of the kinks before applying them within our overal website.

If you think about it, social media is really just a virtualized society.  It makes it faster, easier, and at times cheaper to connect with others that have simliar interests or commonalities.  The tools today, as opposed to 2001, are more intuitive and flexible making it faster and easier to get started.  So, the real effort is taking what you have in your assets, look at how you interact both online and offline, and recreate that in social media.

Additionally, you will need to evaluate how the conversation is different in a face to face setting vs. the content push that primarily happens today with direct marketing efforts.  What works with events and meetings is dialogue exchange.  Our websites and marketing as a whole have become more of a linear mechanism to bring people into the lead management process.  The social setting is about exchange.  I heard one person say that social media is really a vortex – kenetic, circling, accelerating to a mutual objective.

Don’t believe that you are behind in your ability to implement an effective social media strategy.  It doesn’t matter if you “don’t get it”.  In many ways, you are already doing it.  Now there is a lexicon for it.

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Hey teacher, can you give me a tweet?

He He…Alright, maybe not the most appropriate title, but there is a point.

My school system has embraced technology.  It is all about going green.  Really it is about saving money to avoid printing notices.  Regardless, noble effort. But, I have to pull the info. Drives me crazy. I actually have to think about it! The shame of it all (can you hear the whine?). Oh, there is the monthly email that comes out from the school, teachers, PTA, and so on. If there is a hot topic being debated then an email arrives on that. But, if you are like me, my mailbox is pretty full and things get lost.

So I had a thought, what would or could mobile and social media do for cities and towns? Think about it, Obama raised millions and drove his entire campaign through social media. I was listening to his podcasts two years ago. He nickel and dimed his way to the top and drove home his message of change mostly through PR.

  • What if teachers could use Twitter to send parents a reminder that the class project was due in 2 days?
  • What if you could create educational games for kids to purchase and download on their phones and iPhones to play and proceeds went to the school?
  • Would you like to participate in the school committee meetings via webinar or Skype technology and submit questions?
  • How about a social network for parents and teachers to connect and discuss issues and topics?
  • Wouldn’t you love a blog from the Superintendent, principle, and your child’s teacher?
  • Could schools leverage social networks, phone applications, and other Web 2.0 media to raise much needed funds?
  • What about kids blogging to each other in a book club, sports club, or any other topic that promotes writing, journalism, and community connection?
  • Wouldn’t you love to tweet a teacher? (Get your minds out of the gutter – Twitter!)

Anyway, you get the point.  Think of the possibilities.  Social media and mobile media can make the difference between parents being involved, kids getting more out of education, and teachers and schools connecting in meaningful ways with all families.

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