Stop waiting and get stuck into social media.

People in marketing agencies refer to some people as ‘digital natives’, by this they mean you. Basically anyone under 24, some people stretch it to 26; but usually if they are talking about themselves. It is meant to mean – people that feel at home with connecting and sharing on the social web. In reality, there is obviously a sliding scale. At the other end are senior (older) decision makers that are insecure about the whole affair, so much so that even if they know a hell of a lot more about the online platforms than you – they will still assume they don’t.

They also talk about the ‘second screen’, and by this – you might be surprised to hear – they mean your phone, iPad or laptop while you watch TV. Some people have made the point that most digital natives have the TV on in the background. The TV is the second screen; that is if we aren’t watching it on the Laptop like all students in the UK ( that’s around 50% of 18-22 year olds)…

Clients like the idea of young people working on the social media side of things, and it’s a rapidly growing area, and agencies know this. Agencies offer what they think the client wants. This means your ‘digital native’ green card opens doors. However, it can also set you up for a fall if you don’t fulfil their expectations and assumption that we are all really savvy online. You don’t want to turn up to an interview at an advertising agency where you are expected to know all about Pinterest but you don’t even have an account.

Here are some damn riveting facts stolen from Alastair Campbell, of all people, to show the way communication between Mr Obama, which is a brand just the same as Nike or Fanta (if you don’t believe me look who won Advertising Age’s marketer of the year in 2008), and other people has changed only recently.

When the media declared that Mitt Romney “won” the first TV debate with President Obama, they were relying not only on their own judgment, but on that of 10.3 million tweets posted during the 90-minute joust. Marketers use clever tools that ‘scrape’ social and judge the sentiment of posts and tweets, spitting out a nice pie chart of who likes and dislikes what. This volume was a Twitter record for a political event. Indeed, even in the 24 hours prior to the debate, there were more tweets than were gathered for all three presidential debates in 2008.

The speed of change is breath-taking. Facebook, founded in 2004, recently recorded its one billionth devotee. YouTube, created in 2005, now has more videos uploaded in one month than three US TV networks created in 60 years. Twitter, launched in 2006, has more than 500 million users, with around 300,000 joining every day. The number of British people on Twitter — 10 million — has overtaken the number buying a daily newspaper. Two thirds of the world’s top companies, and seven out of ten governments, have an active Twitter profile.

Much was made of the Democrats’ use of Facebook in 2008. A rather effective PR line suggested that it allowed Mr Obama’s fundraising to be built on small donations. In truth the big money came from big moneyed interests. But where the campaign did use Facebook brilliantly was in identifying supporters and turning them into activist ambassadors.

In an era when people believe politicians, journalists and the traditional ‘look we are the best because we say so’ adverts, less than they used to, they believe each other more than ever. We have all bought something within the last few months online because someone we wouldn’t say g’day to in the street said it was good. This trust is 10 times more powerful when the message or rating comes from a ‘friend’, however tenuous the link – hence the launch of Facebook’s first physical product shops in the US this month. And therein lies the power of social media as a marketing force — a tech version of old-fashioned word-of-mouth campaigning.

Get stuck into Facebook (all the tools), Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ because they are changing everything and you will be expected to know all about them. Don’t expect them to be as easy as they look, approach them like you approach learning to drive, this way you won’t get disheartened when it takes a couple of days.

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One Comment

  1. Anyone who thinks new technology isn’t going to keep changing the world has got their head in the sand. We are seeing progress every day online, and businesses are doing their level best to keep up and get ahead.

    However, when you get to the very top of companies, there is a surprising lethargy about using the online tools already available: social media. Embracing social media isn’t just a bit of fun, it is a vital way to communicate, keep your ear to the ground and improve your business.

    So why are only 16% of CEOs currently participating in social media? IBM’s 2012 Global CEO Study found that most CEOs are clearly not taking social media seriously. Only one of more than 1,700 respondents had their own blog! Some are on LinkedIn, fewer on Twitter and even less on Facebook, Google+ and elsewhere on the web.

    The study indicated that within five years social media will be the number two way to engage with customers (after face-to-face personal interaction). That’s a step in the right direction, but why wait five years? The internet will have changed all over again by then, and business is in danger of being left behind.

    It isn’t just CEOs that can make the most of social media. Where possible, everyone within a company should be engaged in what is happening elsewhere within their business, and in the wider world. Social media is a great way to do this. Also, it can furnish a spirit of community, not least amongst global, widespread companies.

    Nevertheless, like all other areas of business, CEOs have the opportunity to set the bar. By ignoring social networks, they are potentially missing a trick.

    There are lots of business leaders utilising social media, and yours truly is only too happy to be counted among them. But the beauty of the web is that there is plenty of room for everyone. Does anybody else want to join the party? There’s only one rule for entry – no ties allowed!