The first one - where Martin Harrison talks about why PR should own social media - is well worth your time, as is this one with Jamie Riddell, the creator of BirdSong and CEO of Digital Tomorrow Today.
What got you into social media?
I have always been an early adopter. 'Back in the day' I was the Director of Innovation at Cheeze (now sold to DMG/We are 2020) so I always looked at new opportunities for our clients. I started on Twitter in 2007, curious but not sure of its potential. Working with our clients we helped them start to understand Twitter and then Facebook, identifying opportunities and harnessing them for success.
I went on to create BirdSong: Social Media Reconnaissance to plug a gap in social media analysis. Namely, independent analysis of Twitter accounts looking more at presence and engagement attributes for brands (like frequency of tweeting, Twitter content, follower gender etc.) than sentiment analysis. We have expanded BirdSong to offer Facebook Fan Page analysis and we are launching Pinterest soon, followed by Instagram and more…
Who does it well - either as an individual or company?
@BTCARE is my shining example of great work. Before Twitter, my experience of BT customer support was long waits to an international call centre with little comeback. Now if I have a problem I simply message BT or tweet the problem and they will pick it up. Their customer support has meant I stay with BT and I will proactively ask them questions.
@GreaterAnglia - my local rail company won a new franchise this year, operating Norwich to London. Their support team is both proactive and reactive, staying late for big events (Olympics) ensuring they were on hand when I needed them, even at 3 in the morning.
Is it for every business?
Yes - every business can have a presence in social media. The channel will be defined by the product and the reason. For example, I expect most brands to be active on Twitter, like BT, to be available for customer enquiries. I don't see the point of being a fan on Facebook for an insurance brand but I would be interested in seeing Nike images in my Instagram feed.
There is no 'one size fits all' strategy.
Is there a lot of snake oil about over social media?
Yes. Look how many people are social media experts. There is also a lot of crap being shared, masquerading as insight.
There’s an old argument that PR/marketing/advertising should own social media - should any of them?
It should sit across all disciplines because it can impact (positively or negatively) brand reputation, customer engagement and response, loyalty, sales and more.
Why is there such a fear over traditional ROI? Surely it’s the best metric to be using?
Yes it could be measured as return vs investment but it has a wider role to play in the way a branding campaign or brand presence may not immediately have an impact on the bottom line. The Return on Investment calculation may be more complicated than Profit divided by investment but it can be measured.
What are your favourite social media sites?
SoundCloud and Instagram are my favourite social networks. I think the creativity and business potential (for fashion brands) of Polyvore is exciting. Twitter is a good base and I think they will be growing to compete more with FB Timeline and Google Plus as they integrate more Posterous features.
Q In your eyes, what’s the biggest barrier to adoption of social media? And how would you tell people/firms to overcome this?
I work with clients to break it back down. Make it relevant to their business requirements and in line with their existing marketing/comms strategies so it is a logical extension of their business. I show them how they can measure results and define success. If the channel is not right, or the opportunity not valid, I will tell them.
What’s the can’t live without App on your Smartphone (and what make is the phone)?
Spotify on the iPhone. I love music and Spotify gives me access to a world of music. I got my daughter an account so we can share music easily.
What’s the must-have Apps on your tablet (and, again, what make is it)?
Pocket (was Read it Later) is great on the iPad. Throughout the day I skim hundreds of interesting articles. I clip them straight to Pocket for offline reading. Apple's Newsstand is also great, giving me access to Fast Company, Inc & Wired editions every month. I am hoping they will add Mojo and Rolling Stone soon.
What motivates you when you’re down/seeking creativity - what’s the one thing that gets the brain going when you have to dig deep?
I go and read Fast Company or my reading list on Pocket. There are so many amazing things being done every day. Reading about them gives me an instant boost to go and be part of it.
Given that the way most social media institutions - Facebook, Google, Twitter - are making their money is through the most traditional of ways - advertising - is this a failure of thinking? Surely if social media is such a paradigm shift, we wouldn’t be relying on advertising just like we have done since 1955?
We are still in the infancy of social networks. Advertising will increasingly become part of the income.
Look at Facebook trialling banking payments in Australia, and the ability for UK adults to play FB games for real money. Facebook Credits is the way forward. With the huge audience base, Facebook has the potential to create its own economy of transactions which could surpass advertising revenue and focus.
The same goes for Google. Tying Google+ into every element they do will start to reel the audience in. Google is moving into learning more about their consumer coupled with managing the access to information and content which they now own.
If you look at Google Fibre trials in the US, the acquisition of content partners and the growth of the Android operating system you can see Google's long term attempts to move away from just showing ads.
Twitter is the interesting one. I believe it will grow to compete more with Tumblr as it adopts more content displays from its purchase of Posterous. I have thought Twitter could create income/value from licensing its API calls, but apart from the firehose access, this hasn't happened.
Should the phrase “social media” be abolished as there is so much to it - it can be linkbuilding, community engagement, community building, sales, SEO, blogging, gathering and seeding visual information - should we be at a stage now where people get to specify what part of this their talents lie in?
Yes they should. When I consult, I 'bill myself' as an expert in driving ROI for brands. Social is just one channel to achieve the objective.
Companies seem to be concentrating their efforts on Facebook - is this a dangerous move?
Yes. With a bungled IPO. FB has shown it is vulnerable. For large brands it could be seen as a large/easy opportunity to reach a mass audience but reliance on any social network that is not your own, is risky.
A huge element of social media seems to be based around customer satisfaction but should companies - and customers - accept that you won’t always get it your own way?
Yes, but the biggest bone of contention (for costumers) and threats (for business) is not being listened to. Before 'social media' was prevalent there were complaint sites for BT, Ryanair, London Underground. These were set up, and populated by consumers finding it easier to complain than gain a response from the company.
Now the companies are actively listening and engaging, the need for such websites has decreased.
Where do you see social media being in five years time?
Prevalent across all we do.
For those thinking of getting into social media, any tips or pointers?
Be in it and use it. Gather an opinion that was not read on Mashable and make sure you understand the benefits and the pitfalls for businesses.
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