A little while back, I sent out a request via Twitter asking if anyone would be interested in being interviewed for a discussion on social media. With the medium meaning so many different things to so many people, as well as how it can be used, I was interested to hear the views of the people I connect with.
Sharing her views today is Beverly Macy, a Managing Partner at Y&M Partners LLC, a strategic advisory firm in Beverly Hills. She also teaches Social Media Marketing at UCLA and is a lecturer at USC. My sincere thanks to Beverly for taking the time to reply and share her views. To connect with Beverly, or find out more about her, please visit her Y&M Partners blog.
If someone was to ask you for your definition of social media, what would it be?
Social media is a set of online tools that enable community, sharing, connectivity, and conversation among people.
For years, marketers have talked about ‘listening’ to the consumer. At the same time, Web 2.0 began to enable conversations to take place AMONG consumers. That conversation has evolved into video, picture, text, audio file… and it can be shared and passed on.
Blogs, podcasts, YouTube, Twitter, Wikis, Second Life, social networks, etc. are the tools we use to engage in this conversation with one another. Clearly, a fundamental shirt in the way we communicate has occurred.
What is your reason for using social media?
I use social media as a way to connect and share with clients, students, and business associates. I’m also beginning to use it as a personal branding tool. I wrote the course syllabus for the new Social Media Marketing course for the Executive Marketing Program at the UCLA Extension that launched this Fall, so social media has been a good way to communicate with students and demonstrate the power and immediacy of social media.
Do you feel that social media is being used to its maximum effect?
Not yet. I saw an article proclaiming that “blogs are dead”. Are they? Or are they evolving into blog 2.0 or 3.0? In 2005, most people didn’t know what blogs were. Who remembers Friendster? Is Facebook just Friendster 2.0? And where will Twitter be one year from now? The cycle time is incredibly fast and seems to be getting faster. The great news is that social media and social media tools are designed to keep pace with the increased cycle time. So we’ll see tools come and go and we’ll see new uses. As an educator I can say that business people - and even educators - are just beginning to “get it”.
My classes and seminars are full. We had to limit class size this semester and I’m running a 1 day Social Media for Business seminar in February on campus to help meet the need. I received an email from an editor and publisher of a widely read magazine who attended the Social Media Marketing class at UCLA this fall. She asked me to give her “Private Twitter Lessons” after the class is over. Clearly, we’re just scratching the surface of social media for most online users. As they come up to speed - and as mainstream brands get in the game - we’ll see new uses for social media evolve.
What social media tools or applications do you use? Why these ones in particular?
I am an avid Twitter user - that’s my favorite right now. Twitter is proving to be incredibly useful - immediate, to the point, and provides a broad reach. I started a blog for the UCLA Class for teaching purposes that is getting wider attention beyond the class. Facebook is useful for some things but I find it a bit annoying. I have contributed to podcasts and wikis. I have a Linked-In profile but don’t keep it up as I should.
Where do you see the future of social media, both in general and for you?
Teaching a class in social media and working with corporate clients has put me in the catbird seat as far as trend watching. I’m working with clients in pharma, healthcare, energy and entertainment who are beginning to think differently about the conversations they want to have with their customers. At the very least, these marketing professionals see a place for social media in reputation monitoring as a starting point.
I recently heard that hands-free Twitter may become part of Ford’s Sync offering. I’m seeing a rise in popularity and use of platforms like Ning, Pringo, Kick Apps, for white-labeling social networks around all types of groups. This will continue to grow. Associations, industry groups, sports teams, Girl Scouts, non-profits, mommy-bloggers, daddy-bloggers, teens, pre-teens, kids, baby boomers - anyone can start a network, and will. I’m also intrigued by iPhone and other mobile apps and believe there are terrific opportunities for business with branded apps.
Are businesses effectively using social media? If not, what can they do to improve?
I’d say that most businesses haven’t even thought about social media as a viable part of their marketing mix yet. The adoption curve reminds me of websites in 1999. Early adopters had sites back then and were well down the path of using the Internet for business. But most businesses didn’t have sites - or useful sites - until 2001/2002. That’s what we’re seeing with Social Media. It hasn’t hit a tipping point in business yet.
During this semester the Motrin controversy erupted. The mommy bloggers were highly insulted by Motrin’s ad about back aches associated with baby slings. It created an outpouring of negative response. Motrin apologized. We talked about how Motrin may have missed a great opportunity to communicate with those angry moms. Here was a whole group of very vocal consumers who could have become advocates, or a focus group, or Motrin could have launched a contest to create a better ad, etc. Missed opportunity
This semester we looked at a whole host of brands using social media as case studies. I also do this for my clients as they begin to consider social media tools. What’s interesting is establishing metrics for measuring the ROI, and not just from a financial returns standpoint. Brand awareness, conversation, customer engagement, reputation monitoring, are all measurements to judge the effectiveness of social media campaigns. We also looked at where social media fits in with a total Integrated Marketing Plan for a brand and/or company.
But Social Media practioners would be surprised at how far behind these business folks are, though. They’re worried about policy, privacy, lack of control. They are puzzled by the openness and the transparency. Most of them don’t even know what RSS feeds or bookmarking are, let alone blogs or Twitter.
We gave them an assignment to start a blog. That’s been a very enlightening experience both for them and for me. People had trouble with the concept, the idea that somebody would have to maintain a blog, even what ‘linking’ is and why it’s important. On the flip side, we had a full class this semester and had to turn some folks away to keep the class size manageable, so the business community is clearly hungry for the information and tools.
What do you feel are the best and worst features/uses of social media?
I’m loving Twitter right now. It’s a great connector, it’s good for business development, and it forces folks to be short and to the point. I think we’ll see new uses for Twitter continue to pop up.
The biggest complaint I hear is it’s hard to keep up with everything. And to maintain multiple profiles. Someone’s going to figure this out, but right now, it can seem like a time-sink.
- You can find more “Discussing Social Media with…” interviews here.