Social Media Strategy: How Social Media Platforms Create a Perfect Storm
I want to have a discussion with you on how an organization should create a social media strategy. Before we have that discussion and conversation, I want to pose to you a basic question.”WHY”? Why should an organization make a social media commitment? We live in an absolutely breathtaking time, aren’t we? Truthfully, business now functions a the “speed of thought” to quote Bill Gates. When Mr. Gates made this comment, social media was not a major issue in business. In contemporary business, the quote has even greater significance for a marketer. Social media is a GAME CHANGER. Social media allows an organization to market in “real time”. This allows organizations to create strong brands. Social Media allows organizations to have a personal “conversation” with consumers. When this “conversation” is made, a strong brand is created.
Social media are the platforms like Facebook and Twitter that allow marketers and customers to have instant conversations with their customers. This allows an environment in which “disruptive” markets can be created and and for these markets to thrive. Two recent events prove this. The two events are the election of President Obama and the passing of President Mubarak. These events happened because people had a common platform to go to—-a “community” meeting place to meet, to create the changes that they wanted. People had a place to have “a conversation”. President Obama began a political career with no money and no name recognition. These are critical elements that are needed to run successfully for the American Presidency. The existence of social media changed the political paradigm and allowed President Obama to compete. One of President Obama’s closest advisers was Christopher Atkins, who was one of the original originators of Facebook. With his help, Barack was able to create a branding strategy that won an election that would have been impossible in “old media” times.
President Obama and Hilary Clinton are examples of “old Media” and “New Media”. In contrast to Barack, Hilary Clinton was well known, had a large amount of original cash, came from a large, influential state, had a large political network. She possessed a strong conventional political brand. In addition, between herself and her husband, it is a well established fact that the Clintons are the best pure politicians in modern American political history.
Barack’s great asset is that he, with Mr. Atkins’ help understood social media. The Obama campaign was a “disruptive technology”. The Clinton campaign did not understand this new medium— social media. Her manager, Mark Penn, was an expert in conventional media strategy, but the Clinton campaign did not understand the changes that have taken place in common platforms, that allow a great many people to meet in one place, at one time, and have a “conversation” with “friends”. These changes allowed the Obama campaign to overcome seeming disadvantages, to turn their weakness into strengths. Barack’s strength in social media allowed Obama to carry Iowa, a state that has few African Americans—a state that would have been a strong Clinton state in years past.
Marketing is about making correct decisions and making correct “bets”. To make these decisions and these bets, a marketer has to have correct information that is in “real time”. Through Facebook, Barack had this asset. He knew what voters were thinking, and at what time they were thinking it. Facebook allowed Barack to understand sudden changes in perception in voter attitude, and to deal with those sudden changes, that happen in any campaign. When problems arose, such as the Jeremiah Wright issue, Barack was able to contain the fallout. In times past, a Jeremiah Wright episode would have been enough to sink most candidates. Let us not forget that a concession speech, sunk the candidacy of Howard Dean, in 2004. With a platform like Facebook, Barack was able to turn bad events into great opportunities. In the Wright issue, Barack knew that he had a significant problem. He knew what was on people’s minds. Even his harshest critics say that his speech on race in Philadelphia in March of 2008, was a game changer in his candidacy. Through Facebook, Barack knew what had to be said and he said it in a way that all Americans, black and white, could understand. “Conversations” on Facebook allowed Barack to know how to communicate with people—even his greatest detractors.
In the case of President Mubarak, for many years there was a strong opposition to him in Egypt. The opposition couldn’t dethrone because Mubarak had great advantages in money. He also had the backing of the Egyptian Army, the most important force in Egyptian society. In the present Facebook environment, these changes were overcome. Basically, one kid was arrested and got beaten by the police. He got mad, went on Facebook, and created a rally. The many opposition groups in Egypt now had a common place to meet. The army realized that Facebook had created a real paradigm shift in Egypt, and they withdrew their support for Mubarak, and a change was made in short order. AMAZING!!!!
Using these two examples, in can be seen that selling products in a market place should be easy. It would seem that way, but an organization must still have a strategy for social media to work. The purpose of this article is to explain the great paradigm differences that Facebook and other social platforms have created. Facebook has created unheard of scale. To seal the deal as to the “why” question, I would like to quote some statistics on how much scale the social media platforms have given to a modern marketer.
Time magazine tells us from its 12/20/10 issue that 98,604 Friendships are approved on Facebook each day. Among Facebook friendships, 55,304 Links are shared EACH MINUTE. Facebook has integrated with 2 million websites, worldwide. Each day, 10,000 new websites integrate with Facebook each day. The most profound statistic is that if Facebook were a country, it would be the THIRD LARGEST NATION IN THE WORLD. Facebook accounts for 1 in 4 faceviews each day. These statistics account ONLY for Facebook. There are many, many other social platforms now functioning in the world, that are integrated with Facebook. The scale that Facebook creates is indescribable for a marketer. Now, virtually, the ENTIRE WORLD is located in one place—or least in a place that a marketer can reach, all at one time. It is almost as if a marketer rented a hall, invented the entire world, and then played a commercial, and then sat down individually with each of these people, and had a conversation with each of them.
This scale creates “A PERFECT STORM”, for a marketer. Each individual that goes on Facebook or Google is tracked by Facebook and Google as these individuals traverse their social media sights. There are privacy concerns that a marketer will have to address. The scale of social media sights has allowed individual consumers to be targeted and segmented as never before. By working with the advertising departments of Facebook and Google, a consumer can be targeted with just the right message and product at just the right time. A marketer doesn’t have to waste their time on a consumer who is not really interested in their product.