Strategies that leverage social media
By Theresa M. Szczurek
December 23, 2009 --
Strategies that leverage social media
Theresa M. Szczurek
When will things be back to normal? This economy may be the new normal. Here are strategies, organized around the "Ps" of marketing, for creating the recovery.
1. Continue to learn and evolve. The famous book by Napoleon Hill encourages us to "Think and Grow Rich." Expand that to "Learn and Grow Rich." Whoever learns the fastest and the most, wins. One of the best places for me to stretch my mind was at the recent Defrag 2009 in Denver. There were concepts, conversations and exhibitors demonstrating the next wave of innovations that leverage the "social" aspect of software.
Eric Norlin, one of three organizers, which include venture capitalist Brad Feld, shared, "This conference brings together fragments of work in social media (scaleable publishing techniques that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content), business intelligence (practices to support decision-making such as analytics and dashboards), semantic Web (finding the meaning of Web information), and Enterprise 2.0 (social software for the enterprise)."
Practical pointers: Mark you calendars now for Defrag 2010, www.defragacon.com, and start following the Twitter feed at @defrag Make sure you have a twitter account and send at least one tweet per day.
2. Find the next big thing. Andy Kessler, New York Times best selling author, explored how to find the next big thing that creates wealth. The key is to increase productivity - get more output with fewer resources. He fragments people into creators and servers. The goal is to increase the number of creators and decrease the number of servers. Automation technology is an important means to eliminate server jobs. Using derogatory terms for servers such as sloppers, super sloppers, sponges, slimers and thieves, Kessler suggests that many servers will become unemployed unless they are retrained to hold more productive jobs.
Practical pointers: Explore how your products and services improve productivity. How can you create the next big thing? What automation can you introduce to improve a firm's efficiency?
3. Tune into the back-channel. The Defrag audience remained plugged into PCs and smartphones during presentations. They multiplexed constantly by listening to the speaker on stage, viewing the projected slides, taking notes, responding to e-mails, browsing the Web, doing other work and participating in a live stream of Twitter comments about the presentation itself. In following the addicting stream of #defragcon tagged tweets in real-time, the audience got to know the other conference participants' opinions. With this social media tool, a diverse set of audience inputs was shared in the back-channel nearly simultaneously with the presenters' message. However, it is difficult for the presenter to track the live stream of feedback and continue speaking. The back-channel exists for all kinds of businesses, not only at conferences.
Practical pointers: Tap into your target market's back-channel and effectively use this information. What alternative new media channels can you access?
4. Augment market research. How can you quickly and inexpensively use social media to get to know your market? Citrix, for example, put a new product idea out in its blog. It quickly received 500,000 views and 200 comments saying, "Yes, we need this." Dell uses www.IdeaStorm.com to allow its community to view, post, vote and see. Do an online survey. Expand from only using traditional search engines such as Google to also search Twitter and other real-time streams.
Practical pointers: Modify your market research techniques - put a question out via social media, let the market provide immediate feedback.
5. Create a world wide rave. David Meerman Scott, author of "World Wide Rave," explains how to leverage social media tools to reach buyers and grow your business. Rather than buy advertising, beg for media coverage, pay an army of sales people, you can get attention by using "'word of mouse." Create something valuable that people want to share and make it easy for them to share it. For example, when Jay Simons, chief executive of Atlassian, an Australian software company specializing in collaboration and development tools, wanted his product to diffuse, he found the right megaphone. He put together an innovative deal - for a limited time make a $5 donation to his favorite nonprofit organization, and you could equip five users. Next, he found the right opinion leaders with huge social capital who liked his deal - they had a large number of followers with deep connections related to what he was promoting. They spread the word and 1,000's signed up.
Practical pointers: Create a valuable offering, connect with those with huge social capital and build a rave.
6. Consider charging nothing. Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine and author of "Free: The Future of a Radical Price," says, "Many people are making lots of money by charging nothing." Consider Zynga's social game app FarmVille, which was played by 60 million people on social networks in one month. Business Week (Nov.2, 2009) reports that Zynga, which doesn't charge users to play FarmVille, does sell digital crops, cattle and farmland, and is making nine-figure annual revenues from 20 or more such games.
Practical pointers: Extracting a sustainable business model from "free" is not always easy. Get creative on how to convert attention into cash.
Leverage social media for your recovery. Revise your strategic plan, integrate new marketing strategies, and start 2010 with a roadmap to create the recovery. Seek expert help. It will pay for itself over and over again.
Theresa M. Szczurek is chief executive of Technology and Management Solutions, a management-consulting firm in Boulder, www.TMSworld.com. See can be reached at 800-555-8674 or followed on Twitter at @TheresaSzczurek.