The social space is changing our web presence…are we lost at sea?

Traffic…Traffic…Traffic…we want some traffic!

We do not want a bottle neck…we want consistent traffic across our web platforms. Guess what, we have lots of them…lots of web platforms. I think back to 2001 when UXD was centered around how we move the eyes around a page…now it all about moving people around based on how we want them to click. The social space is redefining the way we create our web presence. It is no longer just a website…it is a host of social packages included in this online investment.

It was just the other day I was sitting in a leadership meeting with a medical group talking social media outlets, physician practices, speciality groups, web, and a host of other ideas. Everyone wants a Facebook page, everyone wants to have a social presence, everyone wants control of their message. Individuals inside organizations that have a special touch point to their “customers” want to connect and the “website” isn’t providing that interactive experience.

Let’s look at the web/social space over the last ten years. Here is part of a great infographic from the Search Engine Journal:

Look at the social growth starting in 2005 with MySpace and then the tremendous surge in 2008. So where does that leave us with our “traditional” website? Did you notice I called the pre-2008 website traditional. Yes…what happen to this space in 2008. Well…it was about this time we started to see a open source movement to create a web presence on platforms like Joomla, Mambo, and other PHP based content management systems. These allowed us to create content dynamically online, moving us away from the “post card” websites.

These content management systems allowed us to integrate Facebook and other social outlets into our website presence. These social outlets forced us to create more dynamic content in a more expedient fashion. Now we have a Twitter, Facebook, Blog, YouTube Channel, Google+, Email Newsletter…on-top of the website. WHY?

We want traffic to flow to our sites, we want our followers to grow, we want more likes, we want more YouTube views, we want more comments on our blog…we want more traffic. We want people to walk around, completely connect to their devices so that they can consume and engage with us online. We are a bit egotistical…aren’t we?

This is a great representation of how much time people spent online in May 2011 via Nielsen’s Social Media 3Q 2011 Report:

Let’s take a hard look at these numbers: US Internet users spent 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook, 9.1 billion minutes on YouTube, 723 million minutes on Blogger, 623 million minutes on Tumblr, 565 million minutes on Twitter, and 325 million minutes on LinkedIn…all of this in the month of May 2011.

These stats above should tell you about where you should invest a portion of your marketing/pr/new media dollars…but it does go back to audience. If you are connecting with the consumer…enough said. If you are a B2B organization…need to critically think about how you can leverage the social space.

But…is it about traffic, traffic, traffic? A consistent flow of traffic to your web and social properties? Why should you have a Facebook page and how should you communicate differently than your website? I am off the belief, right now in 2011, that the main website presence is still the home base. This is the place you are driving audiences to capture your delivered information. The social outlets are for building community relationships.

Yes…we can create campaigns for the social outlets to build followers and friends, but after the campaigns expire…do you still give those same people a reason to stick around? What are you doing after the give-away, after the chat, after the Facebook event.

The social space has become the biggest marketing tool and community is slowly disappearing. We are spending just as much time hiding and de-friending people as we did actually accepting the invitation. How can we create our online presence in a fashion that builds community instead of segmenting our brand…lots of properties and little purposefule engagement. Or is just a way to have tons of ships out to sea in the hopes we will continue to keep on connecting with many islands of friends.

We race to create a Facebook page, a new Google+ brand page, a Twitter account each time we have a new product, brand, or idea. But are we confusing people to the point they have no idea where to find us…the real us.

***Photo from Photobucket and seraiwallpapers account.

The velocity of the social space…

I have been really thinking why we as marketers been so focused on a discussion of Social Media(s) return. In 2010, the Social Space experienced an un-precentented number of professionals fighting for the same space…the space for marketing dollars and jobs. That is why we heard so much conversation on placing a numerical value on the media that captures social exchange. The two reasons for the term Social Media ROI…the economy and job lose.

When the economy declined dramatically late 2008 and in 2009, we felt the ripple effects in the world of business in 2010. Especially in the business of banking, real estate, academics, and even healthcare. People were loosing jobs and marketing budgets slashed. Advertising and PR Companies including departments were laying off and closing doors. Many more “entrepreneurs” were forcibly born looking for ways to connect in new ways.

As outlets like Twitter and Facebook gained lots of traction…and professional outlets like LinkedIn carried those resumes; relationships began to become key in finding work. As we built more and more online communities, marketers realized that there was a space to find communities to share brand conversations.

Why bring this up and re-kindle the unwanted conversation around the great American depression that effected so many individuals. Because, I was a part of this movement. As I watched a business I help build crumble, I was seeking to find new business opportunities and new relationships. But what I found was more than the ability to speak credibly about a digital, social space…I found relationships with people. Most of these people I have yet to meet, but these people are ones that I share conversations with daily…online

So why must we measure this space. Why must we measure the conversations that were fostered during a time of new connections. Yes…we can count the “Likes” and the “Followers”. We can look at the clicks to the blogs. We can aggregate the impressions created for brand recognition. But it is really my honest opinion, from a corporate marketing perspective, this space leads to credibility and connections between kindred souls.

I was meeting with a Land Investment Group talking about how they could use the Social Space to benefit their business and their initiatives when raising capital. The social space I believe will not 100% guarantee a deal for someone to invest. But what I do think is that it will help the conversation. Any business deal is about relationships…especially when it comes to investing money. But after the meetings and the “pitch” is done, those individuals interested do what we all do…they do some due-diligence. They go home, open the laptop and do a little searching and investigating. What the social space provides is the SEO to guide the person searching back to content the group has created. They start Google”ing”. This space provides conversations that have taken place around that brand. It provides the reinforcement to a potential decision.

I am not saying that having a “social strategy” is for the birds…what I am saying there is more than just spending time trying to measure conversations wrapped around relationships. The space is getting more and more flooded with these conversations, these blog posts, these “thought leaders”, all fighting for the same space. The velocity of conversations online is ever increasing and just as fast as the technologies that are connecting these conversations.

What this velocity has provided…more and more access to real time information and content. On the day when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Tucson, AZ…real time streams of information from common folks were competing with “credible” news sources. Most of all the outlets were reporting that she had past away, while “social” outlets provided platforms of people surrounding the scene to share information. Imagine the burden on news outlets competing for space with fact hungry, online socialites. We have all become news journalists trying to find and share information. We are all competing for that space…we want to be heard.

Now…there are billions of listeners. It all comes back to connecting with like minded individuals.

**Picture is from Hunting Island in 2006 right before the erosion destroyed our beach house.

Snow Filled Day – Response to a Tweet/Comment

As I am sitting here looking at the 7 inches of snow outside, I am scanning Tweets in my Social Media Favorites List. I noticed one from Mack Collier @MackCollier.

So I clicked the link and I have to agree with Mack…this is a smart lady! Here is the response from Margie Clayman (@margeclayman).

Margie, you have got me thinking about this crazy world in this social space. You said: “There are a lot of people who are out there solely to rake in the big bucks and get famous, and it kind of makes me mad that their methodologies work. I try to do things the slow, more engaging/interactive way, which I find extremely rewarding, but it’s not the kind of work that gets you accolades in the industry.”

This quote really struck home for me and made me think a little more. It is people like you who are out there helping people build quality initiatives, and if your motives are in the right place and the initiative works…you should not be in the fore-front. You are helping people understand the social space and build communities with your guidance. If you were in the middle of the initiative, then you would be the whole campaign and it would be just that…a campaign.

Helping organizations build quality social initiatives is about teaching and guiding. It is not about doing it all for them, thus you completely speak on their behalf in the social space. Community building is about helping people connect around an organizations’ initiatives, not around out own personal agenda’s. We help organizations we believe in…and we have relationships with these groups – they are important to us. It is our ethics that drive us to make sure their interests are always put first. This is just my humble little opinion and thanks for making me think on this snowy day in South Carolina! Thanks Mack for sharing this via a Tweet…it got me thinking.

2011 Will Be There Year of the Documentary in Corporate Marketing and PR

It is my belief that we will see more mini-documentaries this year than in years past. Why, because the “Social Space” has provided a bigger platform to distribute content and a focus on the community voice is ever so prevalent.

In 2010, AT&T launched a campaign to educate consumers about the dangers of texting while driving. This video was shot as a short documentary, capturing the stories of those most effected by this social concern. What better way to bring the consumer to a place to see right into the heart of the issue than a documentary style video.

With YouTube being one of the Top Three search engines along with the platform to deliver high quality content, this video has been viewed over 570K times. That is an amazing touch point to so many consumers of information, people are embedding this video in Facebook, their blogs, and numerous other places.

Documentary style storytelling is a way to provide a journalistic approach to content delivery, providing a view-point directly from those whom are most effected by the mission of the video. Many traditional ad firms shy away from this approach, becuase it is harder to control the message…supposedly. You can’t script responses, you can’t shot-sheet and storyboard real life action and reaction. The ethical approach to telling this type of story has a whole new approach. Most documentary style storytellers shy away from script writing, not using “voice over” to connect the micro messages of the soundbites. Most try to take a more extreme position allowing the people in the documentary to completely tell the story. The only way to guide the message is do a good job of asking the appropriate questions to find the best responses, weaving them together to tell the story.

Look at ESPN’s 30 for 30 Series. It has empowered 30 storytellers to bring a passion to the screen by telling 30 stories. As stated by ESPN, “An unprecedented documentary series featuring thirty films from some of today’s finest storytellers. Each filmmaker will bring their passion and personal point of view to their film detailing the issues, trends, athletes, teams, rivalries, games and events that transformed the sports landscape from 1979 to 2009.”

This series can be seen on ESPN, but also online not only at the 30 for 30 website. Consumers can share the videos by links and embed codes, empowering consumers to take part in the storytelling process. A community of messages sharing by a community of consumer advocates. But what is even greater, each one is produced by a different documentary storyteller with complete creative enterprise…empowering the documentary approach to the collective story. Each one has a different style, a different approach, a different story…communities telling rich stories.

Think back to 2002 when Michael Moore released Bowling for Columbine attacking one issue that is near and dear to the hearts of Americans…guns. This documentary not only inspired many Americans to think about the horrible tragedy of Columbine but attribute a national conversation wrapped around the influence of gun laws in the American fabric. But the other thing this documentary inspired, that anyone with a camera, a vision, and a passion to tell a story can achieve the national spotlight with a powerful message.

By the way, Bowling for Columbine won the 55th Anniversary Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002 and an Oscar at the Academy Awards for Best Documentary in 2003. Talk about taking a message to a national spot light. It not only influenced millions of viewers/consumers but also the critics at large. You can see all the other awards that Bowling for Columbine won here on IMDb’s website.

So why will 2011 be a year of documentaries, well more and more cameras and technology have become affordable, compound that with the distribution platofrms like YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and the list goes on. The critical point of content creation and content delivery is coming to it’s true apex providing the means and opportunity to touch more hearts and minds than CBS’s 60 Minutes. BTW, that is one of my all time favorite storytelling, magazine shows still in existence!

We are seeing more and more content created with the iPhone4, Flip Cameras, Canon EOS Cameras…quality content that is being integrated into bigger productions. If you look at the video below, this was shot with a Canon EOS 7D DSLR…yes, a camera for photos!

But what makes this even more a reason why we will see more documentaries this coming year, we as a community of advocates have truely found and understood the social space. This social space has began to break down traditional means to tell stories, providing more community voices to tell big brand messages. This is the heart of the documentary approach, many voices in one story told conhesively for the consumers at large to watch and derive, project, and discuss their own point of view.