A short introduction to social media - in English this time, in order to address my international guests.
Please enjoy the ride. Twelve steps towards the new communication
Top-down communication and marketing – flyers, brochures et cetera - are obsolete now, and have to be complemented with conversation.
People can decide exactly what they want to see and to ignore the rest. Especially on social media. This means that businesses and organisations have to engage in two-way communication, rather than broadcasting messages. More precisely: they have to facilitate the conversation and engagement.
For the traditional broadcasters, this means brand experience management instead of brand management. Social media are crucial in this respect. This implies working indirectly, 'around the corner'.
Many big companieshave 'fired' their brand manager and have appointed a brand experience manager. To facilitate the experience people have with their products, and the conversation on this experience.
This, because people buy products mainly on the basis of recommendations of their friends, and not on the basis of the broadcasts of the marketing manager of a certain company.
So, in this new landscape, when you succeed in contributing to the conversation, you're king!
What is the underlying structure for this new way of engaging people? Let's take a closer look at the social media and the people engaging in it.
When you understand the swarm, you understand social media. This (the swarm) is our public, the audience we would like to target. Telling them to do what we think is best, in a top-down fashion, will not work. We cannot command a swarm.
The swarm is driven by local rules instead of top-down rules. So there is our leverage point!
We have to listen to what they say and we have to seduce the swarm to land on our platform.
We have to contribute to their conversation, keeping a low profile, and provide them with 'food' they like, our connections and our themes.
For that reason we have to identify the target audience's interests and expectations, and provide them with valuable content. It doesn't even have to be created by us; you can curate great content to provide that value and show you're paying attention to the topic at hand.
In that way the swarm may land on your platform.
Many companies made the mistake of hopping on social media and doing nothing but selling. But this reflects their own goals, not that of the broader community. This is a surefire way to lose followers, who don't wish to act as brand evangelists.
The key is to create a social DNA that attracts followers. The guests at your party will define whom you will attract further…
At the left: our connections, the parties we relate to.
In the middle: the timeline, with (free) content of our connections.
At the right: the platform for our followers to land upon… because of our social DNA.
An example. I experimented with a social DNA for a local platform for Art and Culture. By collecting accounts (museums, art galleries et cetera) that would interest the target audience, a very stubborn crowd… Thus creating an interesting timeline. This, at many social platforms and a portal website.
In short: a social DNA arose that fits the target audience. In this way, many people started following this platform and conversations on art and culture started. This is what I call the social capital. Keep this term in mind for later!
Key factor for such a platform to successfully grow, is, amongst others:
Hidden ownership: not putting yourself at the center, but allowing others to take the lead. In this way people are not inhibited to share your message, because they can show genuine involvement, without being labelled as a brand advocate.
Furthermore, all parties involved can boast their involvement in the theme at hand, to their own stakeholders!
Boskalis provides an excellent example of effective hidden ownership, in organising the Beach Clean-up Tour 2015.
Functioning as one of the participants. Creating an experience for the public and organising a social network for sharing.
And at the same time, profiling their own company for their own clients as a highly sustainable partner.
For example, adding another sticker to the doors of hotels and restaurants will not suffice. People can hardly enjoy the view anymore.
Forgive the pun.
The same goes for adding another brochure or flyer to the stack…
The secret lies in smartly shifting towards the new (social) media and using the traditional media only when needed.
The traditional approach has to be complemented with the social media approach.
And potential sponsors, who want to hop on that train, will ask you: What is your social capital? How many followers do you have and how big is your social network?
So, to summarize:
1. Communication has changed profoundly
2. This requires a new way of branding and marketing
In this way you can start expanding and applying this new approach, in order to create a space where people and companies can share opinions, have fruitful discussions and find inspiration.