29 June 2010 By Northern Lights
My last blog covered the tips I took away from the CIPR Northern conference.
But I couldn’t cover all the gems I want to share with our clients in one blog. So here are the follow on points on social media that every business certainly needs to be thinking about and most should be taking action.
1. The internet as it is now
Thomas Power picked up on an article that John Naughton of the Observer wrote last week about doing business in the world of social media, The internet: Everything you ever need to know. He referred to the scholar Manuel Castells who says that we are now at a stage he refers to as ‘informed bewilderment’.
John’s article is packed with thought provoking points. The one that hit me is ‘our intellectual property regime is no longer fit for purpose’. Challenge for the lawyers here.
2. The next big job in communications
Is the community manager going to be the next big job in communications? I mentioned in the previous blog that Thomas Power said he reckons it takes a minimum of three years to build an online community, probably five.
Many businesses are seeing social media as the new cheap PR. But I don’t think it’s about lower costs, but costs spent very differently and with quite different returns on investment – both in terms of timescales and the process.
Philip Kotler of the FT talks about social media being about sharing of minds, learning to love the company and then transacting when they feel comfortable.
Actually, this is similar to the way we do business through networking. We meet people, get to understand their business, offer them help, introduce them to useful people, share our ‘gold’ – and eventually others want to do business with us. That process can take months or more likely years.
The process for social media is very similar. It’s just the contacts you make are far wider, and the information and help that you share goes everywhere.
So coming back to the ‘community manager’, businesses probably need to
– Restructure their marketing and communications teams and the weight of who does what
– Reallocate budgets
– Change their ROI criteria and timescales
– Ensure their community manager really understands relationships – and from my experience these skills come more naturally from a PR background than a marketing one
3. Blogs are the heartland of social media
This confirmed my own thoughts. Thomas sees blogs as the core of social media, the others such as Twitter and Foursquare are connecting to and adding value to blogs – not really the medium on their own.
Blogs contain the meat of what makes social media so helpful and interesting to companies.
4. Journalists love Twitter
Rory Cellan Jones neatly demonstrated how he uses Twitter as part of his everyday journalist research. It is almost a ‘living version’ of Google.
Rory has two Twitter accounts, with (thousand) on each. So his reach is pretty phenomenal.
Have a look at the sort of questions he asks.
5. Create community champions
Most clients still think that if you want to blog, you write down some thoughts, press Publish and sit back, waiting for the comments to ping in.
It takes them time to understand the time and budget needed to get those blogs being noticed and even harder, generating responses.
Murray Newlands gave a number of tips for this process of getting a blog noticed
6. Linkedin and Facebook merging – just a matter of time
I can’t now remember who gave this prediction – and I guess it’s no rocket science. I just hadn’t thought about it, but it seems highly likely that these two will merge some time – apparently there are links between them at board level.
What would a merger mean? Facebook is already hugely powerful in terms of its databases of contacts and information.
Tied up with Linkedin – will this become a monopoly over our identities, more powerful than any one nation’s database of its inhabitants ?