Professional and personal communications are evolving with the growing number of social media tools and mobile applications available. Individuals are willing to share their lives with the world and are expecting instant response to their tweets and posts on social sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Companies are asking “how do we fit in? Can we build a community and provide the content, tools and personality to keep our clients and prospects coming back?”
The twist on all this is, although new media channels are exploding, traditional channels are not going away. So the challenge is how to tie the myriad platforms together in ways that make sense for your company’s objectives. Social media channels may be integrated into already existing programs, enhancing and extending conversations started at events or in response to editorial content. Additionally, as these conversations gain traction in search engines, they can expand your reach to a broader audience that is interested in the topic at hand.
Social networking is the fastest growing U.S. mobile application category, growing by 240% from April 2009 to April 2010³. Event attendees can be a great resource for growing your social media efforts through these applications. While on-site they will tweet and post about interesting conversations and lessons learned to their circle, expanding your reach and creditability to this larger audience. The DEMO Fall 2010 conference leveraged social media to substantially increase the social buzz and audience engagement to the benefit of both demonstrators and sponsors. With a Twitter reach of 26 million impressions and total tweet count of almost 13,000, these efforts resulted in considerable exposure and reach to a worldwide audience. Additionally, online forums pre- and post-event can kick start, and continue the event dialogue, further engaging your attendees, and making them a community of individuals open to share best practices and ask questions.
Your community will further thrive by having a trusted voice providing insight and encouraging the community to share openly. The CIO Forum on LinkedIn recently received a SAMMY award (digiday’s Social Advertising, Media and Marketing Awards) for our vibrant BtoB social community. The CIO Forum is where more than 37,000 members of the CIO community connect and collaborate to move their business technology initiatives and careers forward. The strength of this group is that membership is exclusive to executives within the IT community, thus they are comfortable sharing what has worked and asking questions when they need advice. The forum provides a platform for research and is a sounding board for insight into pain points and growth areas.
However, conversations occur beyond company created groups and these conversations provide an opportunity to learn what can be improved and re-educate when messages are misinformed. It is a daunting and difficult task to monitor all forums that may be discussing relevant topics, however being active within in a few key industry groups can provide invaluable insight. To become a relevant part of the conversation, communications need to be carefully crafted as educational and not a sales pitch, so that participants begin to recognize and trust you as a reliable partner. Not only will you learn the challenges of your clients and prospects, you will also learn how to serve them better.
Expanding your voice within the new platforms poses as a challenge for many organizations. Understanding this challenge, and the potential of these new media platforms, has resulted in the development of several social media products by IDG Enterprise, such as Amplify Programs, to help companies determine and execute this strategy. Social media continues to grow and evolve to provide new and exciting tools and approaches for reaching the individuals who companies want to engage.
¹US Social Network Users, 2008-2014, eMarketer, April 2010
²The Neilson Company, January 22, 2010
³comScore MobiLens, 2010