Has your company embraced the social media "mindset?" I'm troubled that many marketers quickly incorporate the social media "toolset," without first understanding the underlying philosophy which drives their use.
Companies must first inculcate social media's mindset to experience maximum benefit. It's the same rationale behind why theory courses are taught in college before practical ones. To do otherwise is to put the proverbial cart before the horse.
Here are a few social media mindset markers:
1. The double-helix of social media DNA is "authenticity" and "transparency"
Some marketing professionals may snicker at those terms, considering them to be trite. I beg to differ. Authenticity and transparency are the chief cornerstones upon which social media is built; the ethical standards that represent the best and highest the medium has to offer. It's a mindset characterized by openness and a willingness to share, which brings me to my next point.
2. You must lose control of your marketing message
The mantra of David Meerman Scott's newest book, World Wide Rave, is "lose control of your marketing message." David put it this way: "For your ideas to spread and rise to the status of a World Wide Rave, you've got to give up control. Make your Web content totally free for people to access, with absolutely no virtual strings attached."
Granted, that's scary, but when you consider that social media has given anyone with access to the Internet the opportunity to become publishers of content, not merely consumers, message control is out the window anyway. You might as well become a pro-active participant. Certainly, you can no longer hold your message close to the vest and protect it as if its your first-born. Not possible.
One company that has taken this mindset marker to heart is Cadbury, the UK-based confections maker. On two separate occasions, they released video "adverts" to YouTube and encouraged people to do with them what they would.
With the first, known as the Cadbury Gorilla, people remixed the video with music of their own choosing. In the latter, Cadbury Eyebrows, fans created their own versions of the video altogether. In both cases, multiplied millions viewed the remixed creations. It was a huge win for Cadbury. Expect to see more like these.
That's not to say everything gets given away for free. Even companies as progressive as Hubspot require registration for some things -- Webinars, for example.
3. Every voice matters
Every participant in social media is a center of influence to some extent, even those far down the long-tail. I'm of the opinion influence tends to filter up rather than down. What starts in the hinterlands of the social media sphere can quickly climb to a place of prominence.
Take, for example, the meteoric rise of Susan Boyle's videos on YouTube. While the television program on which she appeared, Britain's Got Talent, may have led her to become a singing sensation in the UK, it took millions of us spreading her message via YouTube embeds and shared links to bring Susan onto the global stage. And we did so with alacrity. It was the efforts of the "long tail" that brought her to the attention of mainstream media, not the other way around.
4. Some voices matter more than others
I don't mean that in a pejorative way. It's just that, some people extend much more influence than others. By "influence," I'm not necessarily talking about numbers either. In social media, the important thing is not how many eyeballs read the content, but who those eyeballs belong to.
5. The Web is now more about "shared connections" than "siloed destinations."
It is with great delight that I announce the end of the "Web as a destination" era. Okay, Steve Rubel beat me to it, but I heartily echo his refrain.
With that pronouncement comes grave concern. I'm worried that many small businesses think just having a presence on the Web is enough. It would be wonderful if things could be that simple, but they are not. The day of the "electronic brochure" has long passed.
To build a Web site as a destination-oriented,information silo is to do so at your own hurt. Of course, you're site is a destination, but these days it's better to fashion it as part of the chain of shared connections.
For example, as important as it is to have a primary navigation (About Us, Service, Products, Contact Us, etc), just as important is a "social navigation." Build a navigation structure into the site's template that links to where else you exist on the Web, especially social networks.
Heck, if you have the development resources available, bake Facebook Connect into the site. You can't get more social than that. And the message alone that it sends says you understand the state of the Web in its current iteration.
6. Facebook is the operating system of the new Web
At least Facebook is trying to be, and it's meeting with good success. I've been a Facebooker almost from the time Mark Zuckerberg opened it to the general public. Yet, it was only recently that I recognized just how mainstream the site had become.
When visiting my elderly parents a few weeks ago at their home in rural east Mississippi, I attended church services along with them on Sunday morning. One of my distant relatives who would hardly qualify as an Internet power user approached me prior to the service and loudly hailed, "Hello, Facebook friend!" I quickly realized that if this lady and others of her ilk were on Facebook, then just about everyone was.
For marketers, especially those in the B2C space, having some type of brand presence on Facebook is virtually a given.
7. Twitter is the new email
If Facebook is the new OS, then Twitter is the new email. Perhaps I'm using that term too literally, so let me rephrase... Twitter is the new "email," figuratively speaking.
I'm neither the first or only person to say that. Robert Scoble said it in the title of a Fast Company post well over a year ago.
Despite the fact that its user numbers pale in comparison to Facebook, Twitter is a new communications paradigm that is not to be overlooked or underestimated, especially when you consider the average demographic is 35-44 (and skews up rather than down). No doubt about it, Twitter is a business tool.
Those are some of the social media mindset markers I've noted. Please feel free to add your own. Whether the number is seven or 70, the truth is the way the Web works today is different than even a few years ago. We've turned the corner to a new era and can never go back. The train is leaving the station and it's time to get on board!
Paul Chaney is a veteran digital marketing consultant, trainer, writer, editor, and author of four books, including The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media. Reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org.
LinkedIn: Paul Chaney