The global reach of Social Media
For every requirement such as bonding with friends & sharing life's secrets, articulating strong opinions, analysis & evaluation of a trend, or learning while watching; there are a plethora of social media options to choose from for each of the things that form part of our intent. The year 2011, surely promises to augment this virtual brotherhood, i.e. this optimal representative of a globalizing world.
Hence keeping pace with the following trends becomes mandatory for users and beneficiaries of social media:
Marketing, Marketing & Marketing
In an era of increasing competition, a good company can become great mostly on the basis of its promotional campaigns and by building customer loyalty. In such a scenario, the low-cost endorsement option provided by social media is a godsend. Companies can advertise, inform and describe their products all in a compact space and market themselves to a sundry consumer base.
Visionary brands need to realize that social media is about sending meaningful messages and building relationships. A good example of this is the Pepsi Refresh Project. People will only 'like' a product or organization on Facebook because they vaguely appreciate it, but the more significant challenge is to make them come back continually.
Preaching & Professionalism
People who can delineate the company's vision clearly should blog, manage discussion forums and play the role of virtual ambassadors. It is essential to choose and train the right person to fashion a buoyant company image. Every department in an organization - R&D, Sales, HR; should have representatives on the social web whose sole purpose should be to have the right impact on the customers so that the strategic intent of the organization for its customers is known to one and all.
Real-Time Worrying, should be Handled
Keeping pace with responses to a post or a product is difficult with so many different channels, but it is of great consequence. Discussions should be kept alive and running, as should regular updates about fresh developments. Starbucks engaged its fans with its feedback and contribution forum My Starbucks Idea. Dierdre Walsh, Community and Social Media Manager of National Instruments says, "Listening and engaging in meaningful dialogue with customers both on our site and in social media outlets like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter helps us provide quality support, improve products, and build loyalty."
Some tools used for such social media monitoring and analysis are uberVU, Flinchline (a Dutch tool with international focus), Meltwater Buzz, Radian6, Argyle Social and and this brand monitoring tool from Brandmentions.
Wise Content will itself create Wise Branding
What you write can create your 'brand'. Even if a chewing gum is discussed intelligently on a blog, it is likely to become a brand. Creating interesting content is half the battle won. For that content, developers must study the requirements of their audience/consumers. Journalism is being re-invented in the world of social media, and every man has a story to tell. Remember, it's the "telling" that counts.
Branding with the help of Top Four Social Media streams
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn are at the top of the social media pyramid. If your company is not here, then you are missing out on a huge customer base. More than individual websites, it is imperative that your presence is felt on these illustrious mediums. Until more social media sites come up, make sure you keep updated information, advertisements, discussions, promotional offers and fan responses on these forums.
Further, Anthony J. Bradley lists 6 core principles that underlie the value of social media solutions -- Participation, Collective, Transparency, Independence, Persistence & Emergence.
So, let's just say "Cheers" to all the above mentions!