John Hartman is president of Feedia, a social media consulting firm helping companies develop strategies in new media. He’s very active in the Portland technology community and always a great presenter. He’ll be presenting Monday, Dec 7th at the Portland State University Internet Marketing Conference. His topic is entitled: Media in a Convergence Culture, Understanding Marketing in the YouTube Age. The entire day long conference schedule is packed full of valuable content, you can see the agenda details and register online.
John, @feedia on Twitter, was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer our questions.
What are the top challenges when trying to successfully build a brand with social media?
Assuring your social currency is in the black in this reputation economy. Understanding that the proliferation of social networks has created so many options that one must pick the best platforms for the strategy you are implementing and that it is not just about Facebook and YouTube. Crafting effective transmedia campaigns that are not just marketers talking to marketers but a real conversation with your customers. That your brand is expected to respond to the conversation, social media has become a lot about customer service.
What types of media do you feel consumers expect when interacting with a brand online?
A full rich bountiful banquet of media that includes a conversational platform like a blog or twitter, better yet both. TVideo is a massive part of the new media landscape and consumers are expecting it more and more. A growing trend in video is branded entertainment. In a recent independent report published by CNBC “82% of those who watched the strategic branded content segment enjoyed the programme and felt more positive about the brand.” The media you produce should be created with an understanding of your market demographics, this can change your tactics for say a Boomer demo or a Gen Y focused campaign. In an age of media production where the consumer is the creator as well a brand we must find a way to evolve beyond the infomercial and tell interesting stories that incorporate our Lovemarks.
Will websites built on a consumer-generated content model, like YouTube, continue to be successful or is there an expiration date?
You will see some consumer created content area’s that will thrive but at the end of the day we all have to eat. I think for an long term survival community driven sites will have to move to a micro payment model, a great example of this is Second Life. Last I heard YouTube was loosing money and not all community driven sites have Google or News Corp backing them.
Can you discuss how to properly craft messaging on social media platforms?
Be real, open and honest. Understand the conversational nature of social media and that social media drives as much traffic as search. So SEO copywriting best practices should be applied on these spaces as well. It is OK to ask for help but your messaging should come from you. Do NOT hand your twitter account to the kid in the mail room! The tweets that come forth are from your brand voice so speak in the tone an tenor that befits your brand.
What do you mean by ‘reputation economy’? Can you give some examples of companies that have successfully maneuvered this new landscape?
Reputation Economy is where the value of your personal brand i.e. (your word) can sway purchasing behaviors of consumers. It is the currency of influence in a world where a blogger can sell more of your product than your media buy(s) do.
Comcast Cares is a good example of moving the needle on reputation. Comcast still has a long way to go but they are at least balancing out the sleeping Comcast technician waiting on hold that YouTube made so famous. This is a new phrase for a very old idea that Les Schwab understood very well.
What are the social media platforms that most companies need to know about and participate in?
LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, WordPress (or other blogging platform), Yelp (if you have a store front) and at least one long tail social network in your market segment i.e. something like Takkle for High School Sports. This is a loaded question because it is really about understanding your business and developing a strategy based on objectives and that can radically change this answer.
What are some lesser known social media platforms that may get more attention in the near future?
Whrll, Twine, Genkii (I hope they don’t get mad but what they are cooking up is awesome and not everything is fully public… shhh) Diigo and TAT – The Astonishing Tribe is dreaming up some things that are very cool that will add to any new social network. I also think Layar data sets will be brought into an AR social play that has not fully cooked yet. I think we are also in for a big push in bringing social back to “TV” viewing so services like Boxee and Twirl TV have some promise.
Any predictions for where this social media ride may be taking future marketers?
In the short run it is the localized information space that will be big for social media, using my iPhone or Droid to find my friends or product or services near me. The big change coming is a massive UI shift (see Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry Sixth Sense Video on TED) a combination of projected UI as well as visual recognition systems (project Natal – Microsoft is a good example) are going to change our interface to the machine and with each other. This will profoundly effect social media. As Charlene Li and many other have said social networks will be everywhere. Our ability to augment our environments as well as the people in our social graph will change what social networks are. We will be able to project and interact with computers anywhere and they will see what we see and see us as well. We are rapidly approaching the day when the machines we use will join the conversation, in little ways at first but at some point I may have a friend request from my iPhone on Facebook ;-).