Social Media - a less interruptive disruptive communication
Dean Wilson, UK CEO and VP International at Active
International, says if you can’t own the conversation
be part of it ensuring you have a strong social listening
strategy at the heart of what you do...
At last count - not mine - there were 87,000 Starbucks drink
combinations; perhaps comparable to the number of digital
media opportunities on offer to advertisers. Whilst all digital
platforms from search and gaming to affiliates and mobile are
enjoying rising revenues, it is social media that is
dominating the news, views and restaurant table chatter.
54% of companies agreed that social media engagement
was their top 2012 priority, a clear 16% gap between the
second rated priority.
Less than 20 years after the birth of the world wide web (to
those reading this of the Mark Zuckerberg generation the
web was the brainchild of Sir Tim Berners Lee) over two
thirds of the UK population are connected to a social network
platform. If Facebook were a country it would be the third
largest in the world, with its 845 million users.
Over the course of 24 hours 172 million of us visit Facebook,
we send 294 billion e-mails, publish two million blog posts,
upload 864,000 hours to You Tube, tweet 40 million times
and an undisclosed number will visit the Angry Birds theme
park in a truly bizarre brand extension or a mobile app.
It will come as no surprise that we spend more time with
additional media. We are switched onto communication for
over half our waking hours, squeezing in eight hours and 48
minutes of media into just seven hours.
This change in media consumption has led to a change in
behaviour; we snack more on media, demand more and
have to filter more. Social media is becoming our defence
against the epidemic of “information indigestion”. Recent
research highlights that while only 14% of us trust
conventional advertising a staggering 90% trust peer
recommendations as consumers turn to friends for product
and service information reposting, retweeting and repining.
Social media is, no doubt, a game-changer. Whilst Google
recognise this, evident in the launch of Google+, there is an
argument to say its dominance is being threatened. With
Google+ attracting 625,000 new users every day, with a
forecast of 400 million by the end of 2012, there is no room
Both as a marketing tool and a service social media has
shifted communication to interactive dialogue. Its value lies
in its ability to create conversations and develop reputations
and identities in an engaging and powerful manner.
Encompassing social networks, music, gaming, video,
microblogging, bookmarking, photo, wikis, search,
couponing and reviews the opportunities for advertisers
within social is vast in a climate where communication is
quick, agile and powerful.
So, who is harnessing the power of social? Heinz is an
example of a brand that has created and executed a
successful campaign, doubling its Facebook fan base.
Customised cans with “Get Well” labels were created and
recipients via Facebook, achieving over 72,000 views and
32,000 likes. This was not only engaging but provides crucial
data generation, something that according to a recent study
by IBM is something that only 25% of companies are using to
deliver a competitive advantage.
Whilst Facebook is maintaining its position as leader of the
social media pack there are a number of new platforms
launching which are being tipped for greatness. It seems
a new platform is being launched almost daily. Recently it
is the virtual pinboard, Pinterest. In just six months its user
base has increased by 866% from 1.68 million to 16.23
million. Whilst this may fall short of the over 800 million active
Facebook users, there is no denying the rate of adoption is
Taking a Pinterest-eque approach Fancy and Gogobot are
being touted as social networks to watch. Fancy allows users
to create a personal catalogue and purchase their desired
products, and Gogobot is a social travel site aiming to
revolutionise travel planning through trusted friend
We are also witnessing celebrities get in on the act
recognising the way to develop their “brand” is to be aware
and be involved in social. Currently in beta test mode Lady
Gagas is soon to launch her social network, Littlemonsters.
com, a natural extension to commercialising her 20 million
followers she has amassed on Twitter. Success lies in
engaging with the “tastemakers” (to use a Pinterest term)
and harnessing the power of collaboration and “shareability”.
According to the futurologist, David A Smith: “Only companies
that prepare for a different tomorrow will thrive.”
Businesses and brands need to wise up to what has been
coined Socialnomics, an environment where power, creativity
and control is increasingly outside their control and sphere of
influence, but of increasing importance.
The game may be changing, and there may be many more
players, but the old communication rules still apply. Technology
is important but people and expertise are crucial. Social
media is the wor(l)d of mouth of the internet age and is an
ideal communication tool that disrupts, but doesn’t interrupt.
If you can’t own the conversation be part of it ensuring you
have a strong social listening strategy at the heart of what
Source: IAB, Ofcom, Forbes, Fast Company, Economist,
Mashable, Erik Qualman