If nothing else, social media have made us all hyper-connected. An idea expressed in a blog post written in the morning can spread around the world in minutes—and result in the author's appearing on CNBC by the afternoon.

The cost of self-publishing continues to plummet, just as ease of use continues to increase, as a result creating enormous potential for marketers to leverage these new social media as buzz-building tools. But only if they understand how to utilize social media—that is, to listen to and participate in the conversations that are happening.

One complication is that as a result of the proliferation of new social sites and toys the learning curve for marketers gets steeper the longer they wait to enter the fray. Which is where buzz-building masters like Paul Dunay come in.

Paul has earned his keep over the past 20 years by building buzz for heavyweights like Google, IBM, and Microsoft. These days he's immersed himself in social media, which serves him well as the director of "Global Field & Interactive Marketing" for BearingPoint.

In this one-on-one, he gives us the lowdown on how to use social media to kick-start your buzz marketing efforts.

Q: Blogs, podcasts, and other forms of social media seem to be the "shiny new toys" that marketers are wanting to play with. What do you think is the biggest mistake most companies make when they first try to add social media to their marketing efforts?

A: For me the biggest mistake is two-fold: First, trying just one podcast or blog entry to see how it "performs." Like Lays potato chips, you can't eat just one—and you cant expect to record one podcast and be able to judge the success of the program. You must think longer-term.

The other mistake is what I call "Shovelware." Just because a marketer has a 90-minute webcast doesn't mean s/he also has content for a podcast. It would be too long and boring, and the time it would take to edit it down to just the salient points would be too costly and would produce something of little value.

This is a new medium, and you need new, fresh content for a blog, podcast, or whatever.

Q: Facebook seems to be leading the "buzz" right now as far as social-networking sites go. A year from now, will we still be buzzing about the potential of Facebook as a marketing tool, or will another social site have passed it? Or will we have moved away from such social-networking sites completely?

A: OK—I hope Facebook will still be on the scene and would love to see it evolve to this vision. I can see a day in Facebook's future where marketers would launch a game or quiz or interactive demo that could be launched ONLY on Facebook and be spread around like wildfire. You sort of see that now with mini apps that my network may try or sign up for but nothing is really a cool marketing game/quiz/demo yet...

Q: Let's talk about company blogs for a minute. It appears that companies are becoming much more comfortable with blogs and are beginning to start their own blogs with much more frequency. Is company blogging here to stay?

A: Yes and no—A company blog is a window into the soul of a company. Blogs give you transparency and two-way communication with an audience. If blogs aren't here to stay—transparency and two-way communication with an audience certainly are. Forever!

Q: As far as B2B marketing goes, what areas of social media should we have our eyes on in the next 1-2 years? What areas will have the most marketing potential for B2B marketers?

A: Communities—period. But with that statement comes so much—communities can be the place where we use and bring to bear all the Web 2.0 tactics in one place (for example: blogs, podcasts, video, RSS feeds... you name it); but it also must have the opportunity for community-generated content. If it doesn't, it is not a two-way street and therefore not a community.

The other challenge is creating too many communities. Tapping into existing ones, I think, is the trick. Anyone can build it and hope they will come; finding a base to start with is the trick.

Q: Although social media are enjoying steady growth, there's still no shortage of companies out there that simply want no part of adding blogs or wikis or podcasts, etc. to their marketing efforts. How would you make a case to these companies that social media can in fact be a valuable marketing tool to create buzz among their customers?

A: I think it says something about the corporate culture at a firm that "isn't open" to new techniques of communication. Forget the message it sends to me as a marketer... Think about the message is sends to new recruits out of college who are growing up with these types of communication.

Fast-forward five more years and no recent college grad would want to touch a company that doesn't have its own blog and alumni community on Facebook.

Paul Dunay is a featured speaker at the MarketingProfs Business-to-Business Forum 2007 in Chicago, October 1-2. See the full schedule and sign up here.

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image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier