Lee Odden has asked a couple questions, in advance of the MiMA event tomorrow night. He'll be posting them on his blog in an edited form. I don't mean to scoop him, but here are my answers to his questions.
1. MIMA is having an upcoming event about social media in the enterprise, "Dual Reality: Who Controls Social Media in the Enterprise". How did the event and your involvement with it come about? What are some key topics?
Doug Pollei and I were talking in January about the social media, how companies like General Mills were going to be changed by it, and how much we had to learn. At the same time, he was looking into starting up a local chapter of the Social Media Club. I though there was a clear synergy with MiMA, suggested he approach MiMA about a joint program. He's a driver, and he made it happen. I'm happy to be part of it!
I'm looking for case studies in how other companies are handling social media, how they're working with agencies, which agencies they are using, etc. I'm also really interested in learning about how to manage these efforts across a complicated set of business groups (agencies, internal departments, functions, etc.)
2. How would you define "social media" to someone not fluent in interactive or online marketing?
I'm going to rip off Dan Zane's definition of folk music: Social media is media for social people. Or, a slightly more complicated version: Social media is the online content left by people as a by-product of being social online. It’s the media that results when folks write, review, share, trade, connect, etc. online.
A lot of people define it by the tools: IM, twitter, Facebook, etc. It's easy to look at the technology that delivers the media - like TV, radio, magazines. But, the key in this model is that the media is more associated with the behavior than with the tools.
3. What are some of the common issues large organizations encounter when trying to evaluate and adopt social media technologies? Are you seeing more internal or external facing applications? (ex: building a private social network vs engaging in existing/public social networks)
The only stuff I care about right now is consumer facing. I don't care too much about Enterprise 2.0 (though I know that I need the same tools for internal communications that I'm seeing take off in the consumer space).
The phenomenon is just getting started, even though to those of us who are on Twitter and compusively reload Techmeme it feels like it's been around a while. It's still so early in the game! Big companies that have been historically reliant on mass media are just now beginning to realize the extent to which their worlds will change as a result of social media.
A couple key issues:
- Efficiency is elusive - Large companies have made a science out of finding efficiencies in media, and have been pretty successful squeezing most of the fat out of production budgets. But, social media, in a lot of ways, is the exact opposite of mass: Labor intensive, highly involved, non-standardized.
- Agency Capabilities are Immature - Big companies are critically dependent on their agencies as a way to run lean internally. But 90% of ad agencies are still trying to figure out how to deal with display and SEM. Social media is going to be a total mind-fuck for them. And a lot of the "social media agencies" are making it up everyday, as they go along. No one has this figured out, and big companies aren’t really staffed right to figure it out themselves.
- Evaluating success - What's a good result? We all know home runs when we see them in other media, but what does a a successful social media campaign look like? How big does that success have to be to drive the business?
- Velocity -By it's nature, social media is slower than Mass. The Blendtec guys were at it for a while, before "Will it Blend" went big. Viral hits like "elf-yourself" don't just happen overnight in most cases, even if it seems like it to us. Tv-centric companies are used to turning on the ad (or dropping the FSI, or starting the promotion) and seeing the results immediately. For companies that are used to the velocity of impact that comes from "mass" media, the slow, steady approach may be frustrating.
- Branding vs. Advertising - Social media seems more appropriate for building brand equity than for advertising. There's a nuanced distinction between branding and advertising that is easy to lose in the execution.
For me, the scariest thing is the tension between wanting to move fast on this stuff, and not wanting to make a major commitment too soon. I think the idea of "first move advantage" is mostly bullshit in this space. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, or because my brands have more to lose, but I'm really getting comfortable with the idea of being the smart follower.
Social media is creating whole new communication patterns, consumers are learning new habits and they're inventing new ways of taking in information. And the technology to make it all go is literally being invented right now. As an entrepreneuer, I'd want to be right in the middle, creating the change. As a marketer, I'm comfortable with the idea of watching things evolve for a while. The last thing i'd want to do is go do something ham-fisted and get our brands burned as a result of haste or recklessness.
4. Can you share a few high level tips for companies that are in discovery mode when it comes to tasks such as deciding on social platforms and applications, internal management and success measurement?
I'm an unreliable source here. We're still sorting out this stuff, but I'll let you know when I'm confident enough that we've been successful. Here are principles we're working from:
- Fail fast and small
- Pull the trigger slowly
- Manage experimentation like a portfolio. Assume that out of 10 experiments, you'll get one smash, 2-3 qualified wins, one or two that seem like noble failures, and the rest will probably wash out.
One piece of advice that I would give is, work really closely with the companies. Facebook, Myspace, Google, Yahoo, Cafemom, Videoegg, have all been very willing to work with us to create successes.
5. What are some of the resources (sites, blogs, books, events, networks, applications, etc) that you rely on for information on social media best practices?
My reading list is much more narrow than both it should be and it used to be. I don't think I've got anything unique to share here...
6. I asked this question of Charlene Li in a previous interview about Groundswell, so you can't use her answer (RSS). If you were a social technology, which one would you be?
Twitter? Short attention span, limited capabilities, impulsive, compulsive, flexible
7. BONUS! What question should I really be asking you? (and the answer of course)
How are you making decisions about where to invest energy and time in social media?
Where are you placing your long term bets? (not telling)
Is Facebook the next AOL? (yes)
Is the web page dead? (Not yet, but it's dying pretty quickly)
What comes after the webpage? (the feed)
Is professional, quality content dead? (it's not nearly as valuable as it used to be)