The Social Media Era close

Julie Coassin
Julie Coassin
In Musings, Online Innovation
9th October 2008
The Social Media Era

Every day we use something called Social Media. Social networks like Facebook, Myspace or Linkedin are really pervasive in our life and we use them either for professional or friendship networking, events planning, pictures sharing, comments or chatting...

We spend so much time sitting in front of our screen connected to our online communities that we are even putting on weight! Facebook 'makes you fat' as Britons pile on the pounds.

But Social Media is far larger than social networking websites. It is actually about all the available online tools that allow us to communicate, create, share, listen, recommend, network... in fact, it is a new world of free media transforming the passive user into the content creator.

When you think Social Media, you have to think blogs (Blogger, Wordpress), video sharing (YouTube, Dailymotion), microblogs (Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku), wikis (Wikipedia), social bookmarking (del.icio.us, Digg), virtual worlds (Second Life, Entropia Universe)…

The internet is becoming social and users' behaviour is inevitably being altered by this trend. Indeed, consumers are less receptive to interruptive and monologue communication from advertisers. Instead they turn to Social Media for information, real life experience, opinion and recommendation. Trust is shifting to the network and therefore marketers must re-adapt their techniques and their strategies in order to engage consumers and build strong relationships.

Marketing professionals must understand that people are overwhelmed by messages and that the old communication model is not as effective anymore. Companies must learn to move from interruption to inviting participation. The new communication model is a transparent, authentic, vibrant and consumer driven dialogue. Social media offer tools which allow companies to listen to what consumers have to say about their brands. More importantly, it offers companies the opportunity to interact with their customers. However, to make efficient use of social media marketers must relinquish control. The goal is not to control messages but to inform, share, inspire, engage and satisfy. Finally, marketers should aim to leverage consumers as a Media.

Here are some companies making the most of social media:

Dell:
Blogging: Direct2Dell
Crowdsourcing: Ideastorm permits users to suggest and vote on ideas
Microblogging: Dell on Twitter
Virtual Worlds: Dell on Second Life

Jeep:
Online video: YouTube The Jeep channel
Photo sharing: Flickr Jeep Experience
Social networks: Facebook Jeep fan page - MySpace Jeep page - Jeep community

Doritos:
Crowdsourcing: Consumer-generated Super Bowl ads

Many other renowned brands harness the power of communities and YOU, are you ready to embrace social media marketing?