Ted S’s threads and replies to Social Media posts have been so impressive that I just had to ask him, “How did you get so smart?”
That was just the first question. I asked him several others that I hope will help all of us to better understand and to keep up with the quick changes we see in Social Media today.
I just had a very few questions so feel free to post your comments and other questions in this thread.
Ted: I tend to be rather wordy but hopefully this is useful content for you and fits the need. If you have other questions I’ll be around all week.
Me: The good word is that “words” is what Social Media content is often about so “wordy away!”
Questions and Answers
Me: How do you keep up to date with all of the changes in SM?
Ted: I wish I could say – or even had – some golden answer tool to stay connected to everything happening in the space but the truth is it takes a lot of time not just consuming but participating back and trying things. Time is what social really costs.
As far as specific tools, these days I mostly start with Twitter where I’m following some very bright, very forward thinking people who share a lot of ideas before they’re huge. Beyond that I also read blogs from local marketers working with the smallest businesses up to major media sites: it’s amazing how much is out there so you have to be looking at every stage or you really will entirely miss the next trend.
At the same time I’m very big on getting offline both with the industry and end consumers. Talking you get to hear all the little nuisances, the cultural differences that exist in what people use, what are they doing, what’s working, what they like. Conversation gives you the little insights long before there’s enough to really turn it into a formal idea worthy of a write-up.
Me: What do you see as the future of SM?
Ted: I think we’re going to see social diverge away from this concept of network based interactions into what it has always really represented – the shift in power between companies and customers…
Social as an idea goes back to the start of the internet with the BBS boards, forums like Site Point; from there it was blogs and user reviews and then all sorts of other tools: people have been connecting more and more over the last decade. What the networks did was provide massive scale in very short order so now not only is everyone on but we can see everything happening in central places.
Because of the visibility business has rushed to court people on those networks but fundamentally what we call social is much broader than that. I’m not the first one to say that the relationship between how people and businesses function together has changed. People have always wanted information and to be heard but when you can look up product reviews on your phone in a store and post a comment to the world before you leave the restaurant you’ve got a fundamental shift to the whole equation.
As we move forward what we call social today and the idea of business are becoming one. Its not how do we get more positive mentions, its how we build a product that people want to mention positively; its not how do we get our employees Tweeting, it’s how do we make sure our employees are known for their expertise. The networks are these massive mediums and while the names may change to a degree, the ideas they represent is only going to grow.
Communicating with your customers, leveraging their comments, meeting them on their terms, those aren’t tactics – it’s how you do business in this “social” era or as I like to call it, the “age of the consumer”.
Me: What, in your opinion, are the top SM venues?
Ted: I don’t think it’s a matter of what’s top; I think it’s a matter of what’s relevant for your business.
Take pinterest for example: I remember seeing them for the first time maybe six months ago and then a few months later everyone was talking about it so now there’s this rush to get on board but you have yourself: Who is on that site? What are they doing? The answers may indicate that it’s not the place for your business [no disrespect to pinterest, that’s the same question we should be asking of all networks and communities we’re on]. There’s too much focus on being on what’s hot rather than finding mediums that really fit with our customer and model or changing to one that addresses the evolving market.
At the same time, the big opportunities tends to come when a service is fairly young and you can really become a part of the community’s formation like how Comcast Cares got on Twitter and became the blanket case study. That won’t happen if you wait to see what’s at the top before you join up. Be decisive and move early – it’s worth a few misses to get the hits.
Me: How are these venues best used?
Ted: Every network / community has its own dynamics and rules of the road which you must understand in detail but the basic idea remains pretty consistent: bring value. More often than not value means supporting what influencers & end customers are doing rather than trying to become the creator of the content in the first place. If you turn back to the pinterest example you can see brands starting to showcase their wares on corporate “boards” and that’s potentially useful for letting people easily pass along things they like but the serious sharing and conversation is going to come from their fans and the connections of those people.
Unfortunately there’s a big desire to use social in the traditional ways and push coupons and other sorts of ads through it. Those can have their place at times but really you only get one shot at being meaningful, after that, you’re not social, you’re just a broadcast message on a social platform.
As a business you need to worry about making a great product, supporting it with great service and creating an accessible presence on the mediums people are using. If the network likes what you’re doing, you’ll see a positive reaction, if not, you have a point to learn, even to shift back perception through your actions, and that’s really the key as I see it – of course we all make some mistakes along the way and frankly as long as they’re not too big, that’s the best way to learn. To make one final bad analogy – there is not playbook on to follow that will make you the winner, you either write a new one or sit on the sidelines and wait for someone else too.