Have You Evolved Along With Social Media?

Social networking has matured—you could even say it’s evolved since its humble beginnings. The big question is now—have YOU evolved along with it?

The social media scene has changed in so many ways since I’ve gotten involved. With this in mind, I wanted to hear other savvy social media users’ perspectives on how they see the relevance factors in social media that are making a difference to businesses.

I contacted nine people for their insights on the new collaboration and empowerment of this medium by asking them:

  • How do you think the business landscape has changed since you joined social media a few years ago?
  • What tips would you suggest to assist people that are leaping into the social media world now to use in business?

I was amazed by the wealth of knowledge, experience and wisdom in the responses I received.  A big thank you to all who took the time to reply to my questions.  Now, without further ado, I turn it over to this panel of experts:

There is no more B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human, #H2H.  It used to be that marketing was segmented into two categories; business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C). This was done (I assume), to separate specialties, audiences and segments in an effort to more highly target the groups of people who ultimately would consume a brand’s message.  Communication shouldn’t be complicated.  It should just be genuine and simple, with the humility and understanding that we’re all multi-dimensional humans, everyone of which has spent time in both the dark and delightful parts of life. #H2H
True social businesses are few and far between, only because the complexities and data is so overwhelming. Becoming a business that perpetuates creative problem solving powered by social today means you first have to listen in order to keep up. Listening is the mother of all skills when it comes to successful conversations.
“Over the course of the past 12 years, I’ve seen the engagement on social media move from fringe geek-to-geek, to mainstream where everyone and their grandmother is connected across multiple networks and devices. And while users/consumers were migrating to the social networks, companies fell into four categories, those who provided the capabilities (infrastructure), those who engaged with their consumers (b-to-c), those who engaged with each other (b-to-b) and those who were missing the boat (emus).
My advice for a company looking at social for the first time, find the veterans and leverage their experiences and knowledge.  Shorten your distance to success.  And make sure you can answer these questions which existed in 2002 and still exist in 2014.  How do I measure my return on investment for social? How can I be sure I a m engaging correctly?  Does social replace all other paths?  How does social integrate into my marketing plans? Who in my organization should own social or engage?  How do I regulate social in my infrastructure? What is social?”
A popular saying quotes that “Man is a social animal”.  While that’s true, our social needs are constantly changing. Media techniques which worked perfectly in the past may not be crowd pullers today.  In that respect, social media is re-defining the paradigm of business engagement and acquisition processes. Many businesses have come to a new dawn of business reality.  Hence, the recent stampede to the social media bandwagon.
My suggestion to businesses just starting to adopt social media is to recognize that a successful marketing campaign is one which attains its goals and that rule doesn’t change in social media marketing.  From a business perspective, it is important to kick start your social media marketing strategy with your goal in sight.  Be clear on what you hope to achieve and then choose the best medium to reach that goal.
When I first got into social media, it still felt like new, uncharted territory.  Now, nearly everyone uses Facebook, and Twitter and LinkedIn have both grown exponentially.  We’ve also seen entirely new platforms emerge.  With so many options, businesses really need to think about how many social profiles they can realistically maintain.  I recommend starting with one or two (the ones you already use personally), and seeing how you do with those before setting out to explore new networks.
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Our business is built on networking and relationships and social media has, and continues to be, a valuable resource. Social networks have made it possible to meet and form relationships with people on a global scale.  This was simply not possible a few short years ago.  Although you won’t necessarily click with everyone you first come in contact with, the possibility of creating meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships increase significantly because you’re able to reach out worldwide.  Your physical location is no longer a barrier to meeting and networking with others.
It’s gotten a lot more crowded in recent years and noisier.  Building an audience on social media channels is a marathon, not a sprint.  Persistence and consistency are two keys.  You must be patient and look to build relationships with people, just like in the offline world.  Take the time to really get to know people.  Be helpful and look for ways to give value to others.  Don’t get caught up in the “what’s in it for me” game.  It will come back to you many times over if you truly put others first.
The business landscape has really evolved since I joined the social media marketing and PR field a few years ago, and in more ways than one.  Social media has shifted from an activity that brands once did because “everyone else was doing it” to now a vital activity that can potentially damage a business if not implemented properly (or not implemented at all!).  Social media has also holds much more value now versus when it was first introduced because we can now track and associate social media activities with specific goals such as brand awareness and revenue.
Here are a few tips I would suggest to assist people that are leaping into the social media world now to use in business: The first tip is to first create achievable goals before ever doing any activities on social media. The second tip is to explore and test as many tools as possible to make your activities more efficient. The third tip is to segment and track every activity that you do. My fourth and final tip is to analyze the data from your social media activities because data will be one of your strongest assets when it comes to justifying social media and planning your strategy.
Brands seek savvy social media influencers with an equally savvy and engaged audience to partner with. These established networks continue to drive a constant and engaged conversation on the brand’s behalf. The brand identity of a blogger and the brand of the client must align.  Brands now recognize that targeted and engaged communities are much more impactful than large ‘communities’ that aren’t. To thrive, brands and influencers are both obligated to provide consistent, authentic engagement.
Bloggers must establish a brand with its own core beliefs and objectives and it must align with the brand of the client. The expertise within a blogger’s network is key to establishing credibility, thus collaboration with other experts is essential.  It’s all about consistency, authenticity and power of your voice, so pursue passion.  Anything less will fizzle out over time if it ignites at all.
The business landscape has changed significantly when it comes to social media. Customers and clients expect there to be an online presence to listen, help, engage and care about them.  People may already be talking about your brand online, so join them.  Social media is not about push marketing and scheduling everything.  You will need to put in the work to gain credibility and always have an authentic voice.
Create a listening strategy with goals for your brand on social media.  Establish a social media policy that is easy to follow and understand. There are many touch points when selling via social media because linear sales don’t exist there.  Determine your target audience, identify influencers and understand trends for your business. You will need a combination of earned, owned and paid media to create awareness, interest, desire and finally action to complete a sale.  Businesses need to create relationships, because people do business with those they like.
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