Something interesting has been happening since Social Media became a force to be reckoned with, it’s power and use has been grossly misunderstood. The big mistake most corporations and big businesses make, they try to understand communities rather than the users (generations) that build and make up these communities.
To understand a community is actually quite simple, if you spend enough time in any community you will discover a personality and a few trends. But that doesn’t mean you understand the people in that community, people influence people, and communities can influence other communities, but the characteristics vary. What these communities and people (generations) tolerate today, most likely won’t fly the next year or for that matter the next day. Another interesting characteristic about these generations, they group and regroup on the fly.
The Gen C and generations to come, group and regroup for the purposes of grouping and regrouping for a new purpose, they will no longer staying together for long periods of time. Making it virtually impossible to derive quantifiable data that can be used for marketing and or to merely understand any community. They social and very mobile.
Gen C are the under twenty somethings with very little patience for old industrial age thinking, or for that matter, systems developed by those old thinkers. They want a more Natural User Interface (NUI), they want their content to be relevant, useful and interesting. They move in packs, very tribal in behaviour, which means you need to be able to adapt to there moods swings. Gen C are at best chameleons, constantly changing and morphing their identities to simultaneously belong to as many tribes as possible.
Communities will come and go, but those jumping from community to community will be harder to attract unless certain criteria are in place. Connect Gen C members with each other, not just with a brand. Enable Gen C to participate in, play with or produce themselves and then share. Ask for a reaction and have a fun social interface. Enhance social status within tribes, and as I mentioned earlier, Keep it relevant, useful and entertaining.
Remember, pay-walls are not inviting, these generations will keep looking until they find what they want for free. Yes, those with money will pay upfront for some things, mostly just to save time, but the majority of the global population will spend the time to find what they want for free. The Future of Business will be an Open & Free Business Model, where FREE is the business model.
The businesses of the future should pay attention to the user not the communities, they don’t spend enough time in communities to provide enough reliable data. Whether you agree or disagree really doesn’t matter, the future generations will move in packs whether I say they will or not, they’ll group and regroup to meet their needs. Pay attention to what they get behind, not where they hang out.
If you’re in business today, don’t assume communities is where the valuable data is located, it’s in the users, the Gen C and beyond. The communities are a way to determine where they are at the time, that’s it, and it may not have anything to do with what the purpose or cause happens to be at the time.
This has been on my mind for some time now, and I know I’m not the first blogger to share his or her thoughts on this medium. Having spent 15 years in Media via Radio & Television mostly, I’ve considered Newspaper a distant cousin rather than the opposition in my years of selling advertising. The Media mix for marketing has always been these big three, Radio, Television & Newspaper, but something happened along the way and they seem to have missed it.
If you’ve noticed, the paper has been getting smaller, or shorter. The paper is getting fatter with inserts and more grocery coupons than one person can count. The content is smothered by ads, there are more ads in the paper than actual content for us to consume. What used to take two cups of coffee to read, takes less than minute. There is always the big headline trying to get your attention, it is almost always a headline like – Another Hit-And-Run! After all, blood and guts is what sells papers right?
So what’s happening to local Newspapers? It’s as if they are in a different world, a world of their own, and we’re not invited to participate in that world. We don’t have a say in what goes into the paper, in fact, we have virtually no hope of being heard by our local Newspapers. I just don’t understand that way of thinking. The old saying comes to mind, “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”, and I know business owners are tired of being bitten.
Radio used to be theatre of the mind, a real connecting point for communities, a huge service during the war, they used to get involved with communities without charging you to be in your community. Radio reached more people than any other medium, it was the 1st medium on the scene really, and it almost didn’t see the light of day. Why? It was free! The music industry alone tried to stop it, but then they figured out how to monetize Radio, there was an acceptable business model. That business model was the 1st real Open & Free Business Model.
Television captivated us by the sheer magic of how they were able to make it happen, TV used to be live not pre-recorded, those were golden times for TV. They too figured out the Open & Free Business Model, just as Radio did, Newspaper’s like the other two lost their first love, being truly connected and got involved in their communities. They provided a service, and for the most part it was free until money became the primary focus. Money is and always will be the 1st love of almost every business on the planet, that’s why so many businesses fail, they focus on the wrong things because of money, and most still do today. But that’s changing.
I will give Newspapers some credit, they are adopting the Internet, they have to, that’s where the people are. Just because papers are moving to the Internet, doesn’t mean they will survive, it merely means they are making a shift to a digital format. One of our local papers has started using Twitter, they have 13 followers as of this writing, they have a ways to go to get attention of the Twitter crowd. In fairness, there is more than one local paper, one with 1006 followers, the rest with less 1,000 followers. The problem isn’t following & circulation, the problem is….the way they think, the paradigm shift is too difficult for many, they look at the problem with old industrial age thinking, and then try to solve this shift problem internally. No, they don’t need to hire a Social Media Guru, they need someone to come in with a fresh pair of eyes, someone who sees the future of business and what it’s really doing. Business, not the Newspaper Business.
If 60% of commerce is going to be done online in the next 2 -3 years, why are newspapers so slow to adopt this movement? They should have begun the move, from denial to foresight, but sadly they are resisting, eventually they will subcumb to this global movement. The times are a changing baby!
The control they are trying to hang onto is a greased pig. Consider the life span of one simple Newspaper Ad, about a day & a half. Radio would have you run campaigns that require multiple ads in an hour or a day for consecutive days. Television does the same thing, you must run 10 ads a day to reach as many consumers in a day. Ka-Ching! If it takes 30 days to develop a habit, imagine how many days it takes to keep a brand top of mind, the numbers get staggering.
The future of the big three has been at risk for some time now. Individuals are now the competitor, so pay attention. I challenge Newspapers to make one change, this one simple change: listen to what your readers want, let them decide, don’t get in the way and question it, just do it. Just once don’t let money think for you, Don’t tell readers how wrong they are, don’t treat us like we don’t have a clue what we are doing, just do it! You’re already loosing money and more importantly, readers, so why not try it, trust the people formerly known as your readers (consumers). If you don’t, they’ll find local news a different way, like here: The Fraser Valley Daily
There is so much more to say on this topic, would love to hear your thoughts. Someday we will see the end of the Newspaper Editor, why, because he/she will be redundant.
What do you think, do you think your local Newspaper is failing you & your community?
It’s that time of year where I want to give credit to those who are due, if you haven’t looked at the Top 5 to watch in 2010, take look and be sure to keep an eye on them. In this list I want to recognize some people that are right here in my community, they are special people and are a complete joy to be with. You would be blessed by them should you decide to follow them, please take the time to get to know them.
I have had the privledge of meeting these fine folks at TweetUp’s or private meetings held over 2009, so here we go:
People in my area that I haven’t met, but would love too!
There are more, Twitter and well, Social Media is not as popular up here in my Community but I’m working on that everyday. The most popular or most recognized person in Social Media circles in Vancouver is Rebecca Bollwitt (miss604), she is #4 on my Top 5 to watch in 2010.
I want to share these cool, no…great people with you, I hope you get to know them and maybe even meet them one day.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
For many business is a game, the game has rules that attempt to make it a level playing field. The Internet is changing this game, the rules are being broken and the players are blowing big business away. Don’t kid yourself though, big business is catching on and they are making in roads where early adopters roamed untouched.
The best part of this game, anyone can participate, but it’s not for the weak of heart and get rich quick schemers. If you come to play, be prepared to work hard, study hard, listen hard and search hard. You will need every ounce of passion & desire, all the smarts and energy you can muster up. Why? Because this game only tolerates those willing to pay the price, period. The game never ends, it’s 24/7 and it can last your entire life, do you have what it takes? Billy Chapel lasted 20 years and finished with his head held high, he paid the price, he had nothing left to leave on the field. Is that you? Are you willing to stay and carve out your place in the game?
One thing this game requires, a place you would call home base, a place where you go from and return to, the place where you build community and trust. I would highly recommend that you invest your time there, why, because everything on the Internet keeps changing and you could be left out in the cold. Your Blog or website only changes when you want it too, you don’t have control over the Internet and it’s content, so you best invest at home. If you want to survive and play at a high level you need to start at home, that’s rule #1 in the game.
If you don’t love the game you play hard, you won’t see it through, you won’t dig deep and work for your dreams. You have to do it for the love of the game.
If I was in Real Estate Today, the very first thing I would do is identify my PURPOSE, the why I think I should be using Social Media Networks. This would appear obvious but it can be misleading, if you don’t believe Social Media will increase revenue, help build a stronger market share and develop community around your brand, your right, the strategy will be an exercise in futility. If you do, get to work and build a plan.
Get started by doing the following:
- List requirements needed to implement strategy
- Key Result Areas – What are they
- Discern objectives
- Identify Key Success Factors
- List Core Competencies
- Complete a S.W.O.T. Analysis, a plan needs to be well thought out.
Once you’ve completed the above get the following action items flushed out and then make it happen.
- Setup accounts on multiple Social Media Networks and get active, participate, get involved in the communities…then….listen to what is being said, what is happening and where it’s being said. Never stop listening, never stop having a presence in these communities. People come back to things and places that are useful to them. Especially if you can help them.
- Use all SM Networks like Twitter, FriendFeed, YouTube, Viddler, Tumblr, FaceBook, StumbleUpon, Digg, Del.icio.us, Technorati, MySpace, LinkedIn, Seesmic, UStream.tv, and BlogTalkRadio. There are many more.
- Blogging is a must, convert or add a Blog to an existing website, this is where you build community and give customers a place to go and something to do.
- Take advantage of video, do LIVE open house events streamed via UStream.tv or one of the other web broadcasting services. Record those events and archive them, build a library, make them available to anyone to view at their leisure. These video’s can also be training or teaching prospects on what questions to ask, how to and so on.
- Do a live web radio show, field questions on a live video show that has Twitter embedded so it’s real-time.
- Do video interviews, record testimonials…etc.
- Sponsor or Host a major Social Media Event, these events charge for attendance and should not only cover expenses but should realize a profit. Bring in people who are actually doing or using Social Media at a high level, not just lip service.
- Hire or contract a Community Management Officer or a Social Media Director.
- Get Educated on Social Media, attend major conferences and get around those who are high profile in Social Media, and read books for more insight.
I’m just scratching the surface of your plan, but make sure you actually have a plan before jumping into the Social Media mayhem.
This doesn’t have to be difficult, it doesn’t have to be hard, but one thing you do, is work if you wish to realize the results you want from your efforts. It will take time, money and above all else, EFFORT! Whether you are a Broker or an agent, it makes no difference, build a plan, work the plan. But hey, you already know that, but do you know the technology and how to implement it? Do you know how to prepare? Are you willing to pay the price?
In this business, success is not measured by fitting in, it’s by standing out. (Mad Men)