It’s a safe assumption that the majority of articles on effective social media strategies will reference things like current user demographics, the rapid growth potential of non-traditional information sources, and that – by design – these channels were created to facilitate conversations.
For many businesses, the real draw of social networking is the opportunity to have their messages reach mass audiences via the credibility that comes from a warm (friend-to-friend) introduction.
However, this recent blog post by Patricia McDonald of BBH Labs paints a slightly different picture of the “Social Web’s” influence today.
Citing a research study conducted by the Edelman Trust Barometer, the post states that only 25 percent of consumers in the U.S. view friends/peers as credible sources of information. That’s down a whopping 20 percentage points from 2008.
From the beginning, social networking was viewed as a valuable resource that could help brands reach more consumers through the inherent value of having their stories passed-along to like-minded peers. But today, it seems that the credibility of those ‘peers’ is not the answer.
So how can social business strategies succeed in reaching their target audiences?
Here are a few things to consider:
- Positioning: Brands must stand for something. And whatever "IT” is must drive every message and consumer interaction in marketing, advertising and social media channels
- Value: As brands become social content creators, it is important they deliver something of meaning to their audiences. Social strategies cannot become just another marketing tactic. In this world, content is definitely king
- Adjust your expectations: In social media, size matters … but not in the way we've all thought! It’s not how many friends, fans or followers you have collected that truly matters. Smaller, more relevant networks offer greater value and potential for building a community of people who will actively participate with your brand
- Information: When something truly matters to a consumer, the news media is still the most trusted (i.e., credible) content source
Research findings aside, nothing can match social networking’s openness, inclusivity and the real potential to foster meaningful two-way dialogue with the customers who are most likely to listen.
Now it’s up to us to keep the space as “pollution-free” as possible.
-- Janet Tyler