Social networks are living, organic communities which display evidence of specific behavioural patterns and “network” effects, because of the “biomatrix” effect.
- “Network” effects refer to the fact that social networks grow in value to the individual members as membership grows, the more people in the network, the better the network is; and
- The “biomatrix” effect is similar to systems theory and has to do with the overall behavioural patterns of networks which are comprised of independent and yet interrelated individuals.
The important lesson from this is that Social Networks are dynamic and subject to influences from the environment and from within. In order to create successful social strategies the Marketer has to recognise that she is a network influencer, from both the inside and without. She is part of the community, and yet it is an outsider at the same time.
Marketers often struggle with how to use social networking sites to reach potential customers because they treat social networks as just another channel to get people to click through to a site, i.e. they try and excerpt an external influence. People seldom click through on advertising on social networks, unless the advert is relevant to them in the context of the network, i.e. an internal influence. Generally, ads are network disrupters, while their presence might reinforce brand awareness, people are not going to leave their networking space to explore purchasing and advertised product.
Marketers need to shift their mindset from Social Media as a medium to Social Strategy as a behaviour.
Social strategies are all about building and becoming part of the community and communicating with them, rather than advertising at them. A good social strategy essentially uses the same principles that made on-line social networks attractive in the first place, enabling people to network better, build their own personal brands, reminisce, build strong business relationships etc.
To execute on social strategies, the Marketer needs to re-look and make the necessary changes to her real world and digital offerings to make them more social and leverage group dynamics. There are a lot of businesses saying, ‘Let’s tweet or create a Facebook page or let’s advertise.’ but this is not a social strategy. The fact that someone can become a fan of your business on Facebook, or follow you on Twitter doesn’t mean that you have engaged with them or part of their community. Engagement is all about creating value, you need to provide a digital platform for them to validate themselves, network with others, find useful information etc.
A social strategy recognises that you are a part of the community and as such you have to respect the rules of the community which primarily go around “what’s in it for me the community member?”.
The offering or communication must therefore appeal to the community member’s psychographics (reviving that wonderful memory, remembering that smell) as he encounters your social media campaign. The Marketer should provide value to the community, whether it is disseminating information, enabling members to communicate with each other, or providing them with a way to share their memories.
The key to making social media work is to have a specific plan and a goal for the behaviour you want to elicit. You cannot expect tweets and YouTube videos to equate to more traffic and more sales. Marketers need to understand the desired metrics of a successful social media campaign, are they more traffic to the website, building brand equity or greater brand awareness etc. Social Media can also be used to prevent bad press before it happens, ensure that a loyal community rallies around a cause or create a community that will generate good press.
Once a goal has been identified then it a plan must be developed, just like for any other business objective. Metrics must be set to measure success and tools implemented to measure ROI.
This is an experimental world, nobody has all the answers because it is so new and constantly changing as different consumers and late adopters come on board. Marketers should not be afraid to reach out, make mistakes and be vulnerable. Even if you blunder, tourists will forgive you if you’re transparent. Most importantly, recognise that this is the tourists’ terrain and the you are a guest in their world. Don’t patronise you host, rather constantly look for value to the audience.
About Digital Bridges
Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.
Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.
Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.
Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.
To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on firstname.lastname@example.org.