SxSW, as in years past, will provide a launching pad for numerous advances in social media technologies. (2009 saw geo-targeted social media launches of FourSquare, Guwalla, and Loopt and who can forget 2008’s interview fiasco of Mark Zuckerberg by Sarah Lacey not monitoring Twitter.) As professional marketers, we will be faced with the following question: Which one of these social media technologies will be the must have tool to integrate into our campaigns after SxSW?
Before diving into the details of the approach to choosing a social media platform and what it can offer a campaign, let’s look at the main reason for integrating social media at all:
Social media fosters discovery.
Discovery leads to innovation by uncovering new insights, identifying thoughtleaders and communities of influence that you did not know existed. Discovery is not the same as search. Even though discovery and search are oftentimes used interchangeably, it would be similar to using SEO and SEM interchangeably. You are comparing apples with oranges. Discovery can foster search, however, the reverse is not necessarily true. Yes, searching on a specific area of interest may, indeed foster tangential areas of discovery. However, pure discovery can lead to unforeseen and oftentimes, monumental increases in innovation. (An easy way to illustrate this is to think of the following story: Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas, but was searching for a faster way to India. You cannot search for something you do not know exists.
This is why social media integration is so compelling and should be a mandatory element of every marketing campaign. Much in the same way the television and yes, even print advertising, play a role in driving brands to foster deeper engagements with their audiences, these engagement vehicles needs to be integrated. The same approach holds true with social media. Social media is not be the foundation of your marketing campaign but should be tightly integrated into the fabric of your campaign.
Back to new launches at SxSW. One way to avoid jumping directly into the tactics of using social media is to approach it from this perspective: Focus on the “verbs” first before the “nouns”. For example, we need to listen, monitor, engage, respond and measure instead of jumping directly to the nouns of Facebook, Twitter or Hi5 execution. There are over 4,500 social media sites and this number is being added to every day. The nouns are changing and evolving. The verbs are constant. Jumping directly to the nouns first without identifying the verbs leads would lead to missed opportunities and a meandering target to reach our core audience of influencers.
Knowing what verbs are important to reaching your audiences will help you in identifying the correct social media nouns.