Thursday, November 6, 2008

Adventures in Social Media

Free Social Media Tip of the Day: Including funny pictures of cats in your post/story helps lead to increased popularity on Digg. Seriously.

Having worked professionally in the public relations and marketing field over the past few years (and maintaining my own blog now - whoot!), I've witnessed first hand the rise of social media as both a means of personal expression and, well, socializing, as well as a business tool.

I think everyone involved with social media these days realizes its importance and that it has been around longer than most people think; some folks just didn't catch the early flight. But fret not, this is one delay that can work to your benefit. To continue with the airlines metaphor (hadn't planned to go that route, but it seems to be working); imagine going to the airport with no luggage, no tickets and no destination in hopes of embarking on a fantastic worry-free vacation. Riiiight.

Well social media is a bit like that too. There's so much out there now with sites like MySpace, Facebook, Second Life, YouTube, Slashdot, Flickr, Digg, Twitter, Youmeo, my blog, his blog, your dog's blog, etc. They all fit under the social media umbrella but with distinctly different services and personalities. That said, you can't expect your marketing campaigns, new product discussions, blog popularity and whathaveyou to "take off" unless you're on the right flight - this also means you need to pack accordingly and embark at the right time!
(Need a travel planner? I'm available :)

Here's an example: A major consumer product company, which will remain anonymous, wanted to increase their presence in the social media world during peak season, thus reaching their target audience on a deeper, more personal level. Their initial thinking was that by creating a page on MySpace and/or Facebook where they could bring their character logo to life and interact with potential customers they would increase brand awareness and reach more potential customers. Sounded plausible until I did some basic internet surfing research for them and discovered that the vast majority of popular branded characters (Ronald McDonald, Wendy, Mr. Clean, etc.) have dozens of imposter pages, most of which contain vulgar and otherwise non-brand friendly content. Needless to say, I helped them go in another, more relevant direction...

Moral of the story: Don't be the Clark Griswold of marketing, take time to plan your and/or your clients' social media trip(s) accordingly!

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