The Holiday season is underway and Thanksgiving will be here before some of us even had a chance to think too much about it. That’s never a good thing during the one time of the year that you should be ready to express how thankful you are for what you have (instead of complaining about what you don’t)!
Usually when you stop to think about these types of things you reflect upon the past year that was. For the team at 451 Marketing, and for everyone out there who energizes and inspires us by the work that they do and share on a daily basis, the past year has been consumed by the continued emergence and power of social media. In the past twelve months we have seen a dramatic increase in the growth and mainstream popularity of Twitter, witnessed countless examples of individuals, businesses and other organizations utilizing social tools for valuable purposes and we have all continued to reflect on how these tools and channels improve the way we communicate with each other both on-and-offline. In the coming year, we should only expect to see the social web evolve to the point where every communication that a brand (including ourselves) makes, becomes social.
With that being said, while last week the team at 451 compiled a list of the Top Social Media Strategists to watch for in 2010, we thought we would start the Thanksgiving celebrations and reflections a bit early and share with you some of the social media-related tools, benefits and trends that we are thankful continue to be a valuable part of our everyday personal and professional lives.
Without further ado, we’re thankful for:
• The intersection of social media and PR. As experienced communicators, we’re continually amazed by the way that social media so readily complements, and optimizes, a typical PR campaign. The ability to leverage social media to help us to identify and interact directly with our audience, without the traditional filter of the media, both inspires and challenges us on a daily basis.
• The ability to make our own “media.” Social media fosters and facilitates the creation of own content, whenever and wherever we want it. For our own personal benefit, or on behalf of our clients, we have the ability to tell stories, engage relevant audience members, influence and nurture a community and a following. We also now have so many tools at our disposal (e-mail campaigns, videos, podcasts, blogs, etc.) to help us create content that drives action and facilitates business. Traditional PR, advertising and marketing tactics are no longer the only means to an end. We have so many different channels to help us “get the word out” and be creative and have some fun while doing it.
• The incredible value of Twitter. By following individuals that motivate us to action through engaging conversations and/or the insightful news, tips and strategies that they share, we continue to sharpen our skills sets, build our networks and open our mind to new ways to look at things. Congruently, we are just as thankful to have Twitter available for own purposes. Twitter’s allowed us to systematically identify and interact with individuals in a positive way that builds our own credibility and trust, and eventually our influence (as well as that of our clients).
• The personalities that shape the social web. Yes, we let you in on our list of our favorite social media strategists last week (and enjoyed your helpful comments and additions), but we would be remiss not to mention our vigor for watching other folks out there that leverage social media to their, and our, advantage. We’re talking the scores of other voices out there, “Mommy Bloggers,” sports bloggers, foodie bloggers, political bloggers, etc. who capitalize on these new platforms to share views and insights (in a longer format than Twitter) that changes the way we receive information (and reflectively motivates us to act in kind and share our own thoughts). We’re talking about those “offline celebrities,” sports stars like Chad Ochocinco or music stars like MC Hammer, that utilize social tools to not only provide their fans with a glimpse into their lives, but also to interact with them and occasionally offer opportunities like all-access tickets. It’s the little things like Ochocinco’s active Twitter feed, including his pre-game tweets and photos, that have led to the creation of his popular iPhone application and a revitalization of his personal brand. People who probably never gave “85” any regard at all are now supporting him and rooting for his team. Results like that inspire our own social media campaign work.
• The ability to use the social web to help us make all kinds of decisions, as well as elicit feedback. Why purchase any new product without first searching through Twitter or related-blogs to get a sense of the product’s problems, benefits and issues? You don’t need to just rely on official third-party reviews or the experiences of your friends to help you make your decisions. You have access to a social web of opinions that can save you time and money. On the other side, individuals have the ability to build their own trust on certain topics or products to become relevant decision-making influencers; The go-to “super users” of the social web, if you will.
But even more importantly, we’re thankful to have the ability to access real-time feedback that can be incredibly helpful to our work and strategies. What WordPress themes do people like best? What do you think about LinkedIn-Twitter integration? What are your thoughts on the whole T-mobile situation? Either by surveying our own networks, or doing our own digging and listening, we’re able to receive real-time information that helps us to better navigate the complexities of social media tools and interactions.
• The value in sharing. Sometimes, even a lot of times, it’s not all about the content you create or the connections you establish. Sharing news, blog posts, videos and other insights can be so much more valuable to community building. By sharing the good stuff that in no way reflects upon your own work (or your company’s or your clients), your continuing to build trust, authenticity and the likelihood of reciprocal behavior. We learn the importance and benefits of sharing early in life, but we’re just starting to relearn its value for business and networking.
• Converting our online connections to offline friends. This may be the best part of it all. We enjoy learning and strategizing about how to utilize these tools and networks to deliver value to ourselves and our clients. That being said, at the end of the day, converting these genuine and authentic interactions into friendly relationships and real-life connections can be all the more valuable and long-lasting.
So what about social media are you most thankful for this holiday season? Let us know. We’re thankful to have you here to share your own thoughts with us.
-Jeff Benanto and the 451 Marketing team