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Leveraging Social Media For Business

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How can a business strategically use all the social tools for business purposes? It takes a sound strategy followed by execution by experienced resources that understand the art and science of social media.

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Leveraging Social Media For Business

  1. 1. SOCIAL MEDIA CONNECTION Leveraging Social Media For Business Purposes Jay Deragon 2008 107 DORAL LANE. HENDERSONVILLE, TN 37075
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  3. 3. Is Your Business Using Social Media? Business models have shifted over time. Each time models shift the practice of management has to shift as well. Current business models follow a linear path of production and service. At the end of all the connected business processes is the customer, the markets and the ultimate economic transaction. In this model the customer was at the end of the “system” receiving products, services, media and price. Price was influenced by the markets and the efficiency of the delivery system. Most of today’s business minds are viewing the social web in the framework of the old systemic design of a business, with the customer at the end. However, the social web does not lend itself very well to old business models rather it is an inverted systemic flow which starts with the customer and flows backwards. This dynamic is just now starting to create rippling effects throughout traditional markets and business models. The dominant response has initially been from advertisers trying to reach consumers in a more direct way and with demographic affinity to their brand. The emerging shift in business flow will require businesses to make shifts in their thinking in order to both maintain and gain new customers, markets. Shifts are happening in the following business categories: Copyright 2008 Social Media Connection Page 3
  4. 4. 1. Advertisers are looking for new methods and models that reach target audiences. 2. Marketing : Brands are looking for and adopting new channels for marketing. 3. Technology: Technological enhancements are accelerating faster than the average user can keep up. 4. Communications: New mediums and an increases in communications is flourishing. 5. Industry specific initiatives: Many brands and entire industries are running to the social networking mediums to improve customer loyalty and brand awareness. 6. Media : Many media companies are just now recognizing the influence of social networking on traditional media methods. 7. Financial: New methods and models are being developed to create economics out of new services and products offered. 8. Telecommunications: Social networking mobile applications are proliferating the decks of mobile handsets globally. 9. Your World : More adults are jumping into and learning the value attributes of social networking. Are Business Leaders Embracing Social Media? All of these dynamics collectively are pointing to the potential of significant disruption for those unprepared or unaware. The impact of these dynamics will create strategic shifts for all business models and means. The old strategies are no longer relevant, the new strategies are dynamic and emerging moment by moment. However there is a macro landscape of strategic issues that provide the basis of thinking, or rethinking, about business models. The big will have a different kind of bigness. According to eMarketer Nearly six out of 10 Americans who use social media interact with companies on social media Websites, according to a September 2008 study conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for Cone. The researchers found 85% of social media users thought companies should interact with their consumers through social media, at least when needed. “Americans are eager to deepen their brand relationships through social media,” said Mike Hollywood, director of new media at Cone, in a Copyright 2008 Social Media Connection Page 4
  5. 5. statement. “It isn’t an intrusion into their lives, but rather a welcome channel for discussion.” Cone is a brand marketer that counts social networking among its capabilities, so its enthusiasm is understandable. But a growing number of retail e-commerce companies agree, judging by an August 2008 study conducted by Vovici Corporation for Internet Retailer. Nearly four out of 10 online merchants surveyed used social networks. Of those, nearly one-third said they had a page on Facebook, and more than one-quarter said they used each of MySpace and YouTube. The dynamics cut across all dimensions of business as we’ve known it and new dimensions and a new reality is forming before our eyes. To ignore these dynamics could mean peril to those unprepared……sooner than later. Learning the Art of Social Media Many people ask how using social media can add value to their business. Many individuals spend lots of time writing blogs that talk about social media. The media reports on the increased adoption of social media and businesses are now migrating towards the medium as a means to market their propositions. There is Friendfeed, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and a host of other platforms and tools for social conversations and user generated content. To say the least the space is very confusing and crowded if not overwhelming for those just entering and trying to figure out what to do and how to do Copyright 2008 Social Media Connection Page 5
  6. 6. it. While all these conversations stir interest few focus on the critical elements required to effectively leverage the art and science of social media for specific gains. Based on an analysis of the most popular blogs and communities we’ve identified four driving factors to their success. Success being defined by the growing attraction of the content/author, the number of consistent viewers , ratio of post to comments and the viral distribution and referencing of the blogs content throughout the social web. The four driving factors are: 1. Attention: Businesses and individuals are using the tools of the social web to garner attention from specific consumer markets of interest to the audience and the business. Attention does not come from advertising rather relevant content and commentary by a credible audience. 2. Attraction: To keep people’s attention a focus on design, content and utility are the elements which create stickiness which indicates attractiveness. The art of combining design, content and utility is not something available in a playbook rather much is learned by trial and error. Media, in the form of text, images, video and audio are the tools used to create attraction combined with unique content. 3. Affinity: Content, design and community are the attributes of creating affinity to the proposition and the users of the online community. Unless the conversations related to the user’s needs or interest the attraction is lost because the users find little affinity to the conversations. 4. Audience: Once 1, 2 & 3 are accomplished then you have an audience to provide continuous value propositions in order to reinforce 1, 2 & 3. The cycle is demanding and the art and science is ever evolving. Unless your actively involved, experimenting and engaging with the audience you cannot learn what gets their attention, creates the attraction, develops the affinity and thus creating your audience. There is an abundance of social technology available for anyone to use. Technology is the science of distributed conversations that enables reach. The art of using the technology is the critical element that doesn’t come naturally. Developing the “art” of social media comes over time when one focuses on the basics of human interaction centric to conversations that are relevant to specific subject matters which draws people and business. Plenty to learn and more to understand. One last thing. It isn’t going away, it isn’t a fad rather it is the evolution of human dynamics. Copyright 2008 Social Media Connection Page 6
  7. 7. Business Planning for Social Media As the landscape of the social web explodes with developments, new entrants and increased utility, business leaders wonder how to capture the attraction of all this “social stuff” to meet business objectives. Leveraging social technologies is becoming an important aspect of any strategic planning process as more and more markets move to the medium… The POST Method: A systematic approach to social strategy Josh Bernoff of Forrester writes: In any other business endeavor we start by figuring out what we want to accomplish. Social technologies are not magic. They accomplish things, too. It’s time to stop doing social because it’s cool. It’s time to start doing it because it’s effective. To help clients with this fundamental idea, we invented a little acronym called POST. It’s been one of the most popular ideas we’ve ever created, even though it’s so simple and commonsensical. If you were at our consumer forum in October you saw it (and many of you who were there contacted us afterwards for help with your strategies). It’s at the heart of our book Groundswell . Now I’m sharing it with all of you. P is People. Don’t start a social strategy until you know the capabilities of your audience. If you’re targeting college students, use social networks. If you’re reaching out business travelers, consider ratings and reviews. Forrester has great data to help with this, but you can make some estimates on your own. Just don’t start without thinking about it. O is objectives. Pick one. Are you starting an application to listen to your customers, or to talk with them? To support them, or to energize your best customers to evangelize others? Or are you trying to collaborate with them? Copyright 2008 Social Media Connection Page 7
  8. 8. Decide on your objective before you decide on a technology. Then figure out how you will measure it. S is Strategy. Strategy here means figuring out what will be different after you’re done. Do you want a closer, two-way relationship with your best customers? Do you want to get people talking about your products? Do you want a permanent focus group for testing product ideas and generating new ones? Imagine you succeed. How will things be different afterwards? Imagine the endpoint and you’ll know where to begin. T is Technology. A community. A wiki. A blog or a hundred blogs. Once you know your people, objectives, and strategy, then you can decide with confidence. Apply Strategic Processes to Post An older strategic method called SWOT analysis allows the business to gain an insight into their strengths and weaknesses and also the opportunities and threats posed by the market within which they operate. The older method of SWOT analysis applies to the context analysis of social media because unless you understand your S.W.O.T.’s how can you expect to strategical address the right needs using social media. The S.W.O.T. process requires research and analysis of current and future likely factors of social media and its impact on business strategies. When evaluating these factors, the use of an interrelationship and affinity diagram enables us to sort through the collective meaning of the factors and then categorize them—meaning determining the rank and how the categories relate to or influence each other. The question of relationship between the categories is one of “which drives the other most to least” with subsequent outcomes being out/in arrows. The category with the most out arrows is determined as having the greatest influence on the collective factor outcomes. The analysis is likely to produce different outcomes by individual, organizations or institution in context to their opportunities to leverage their social media objectives within the emerging space. Each business factor may produce different results based on the context of “What can we do to leverage social media to our advantage?” That question establishes the direction of the above example by shaping the context for analysis. Subsequently the outcomes of the exercises provide the roadmap for prioritization of initiatives, actions or investments aimed at accomplishing the defined objectives. Defining Socialutions for business is using an organized body of people who have an interest, activity, Copyright 2008 Social Media Connection Page 8
  9. 9. or purpose in common. The body of people in your business goes beyond marketing and unless all parties are “connected” to the purpose social media could hurt your business. One thing is certain. Unless you have a plan of strategies, initiatives, measures and knowledge then the end result may not be what you wanted for your business. Get it? What say you? Jay Deragon Social Media Strategist The Relationship Economy: www.relationship-economy.com Socialutions: www.linktosocialutions.com My Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jayderagon Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JDeragon Mobile: 615-306-8606 Copyright 2008 Social Media Connection Page 9
  10. 10. Diagram produced by Brian Solis. The Conversation Prism Copyright 2008 Social Media Connection Page 10
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