Miss Management: Smart people, foolish tweets
March 16, 2010 | Galynn Nordstrom
Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but most people should probably keep it to themselves. With the advent of social media, however—something that I've decided could be very easily be abbreviated S&M—virtually nothing seems to be unexpressed by those who indulge. A recent poll, however, indicated that up to 80 percent of tweets are unregenerate blather. So how do businesses and businesspeople, eager to avoid electronic obsolescence, capture the benefits of social media marketing in a way that isn’t 1) ignored), 2) annoying, or 3) socially unacceptable?
The rush to publish, a low barrier to entry, and new handheld devices (iPad, anyone?) makes posting quick notes on sites like Twitter and Facebook extremely tempting for people who are trying to break news—and probably works great if your news is about your lunch, your current relationship, your dog, your laundry, Lady GaGa, or tomorrow’s lunch.
Last week, I attended a Publishers Roundtable discussion about social media marketing for publications, and heard great things about how well it works for consumer magazines. But as another editor and I (oddly enough, the majority of the attendees were editors, not publishers; the publishers were the ones checking their e-mail on their phones during the discussion) walked out into the rain, we both had the same question—are these platforms really of use to a publication with technical subject matter and a very specific, and very busy, target audience?
A recent membership survey done by IFAI indicated that almost three-fourths of survey respondents are not using social media marketing in promoting their products and services. Yet technically savvy customers are likely to be using it more and more to research new products. In “Look, listen, leap” in the March 2010 issue of Specialty Fabrics Review, author Linda Kaun comments: “Marketers simply do not control their one-way message any more. Social media pulls your audience to you with informative content that you publish and share online, while networking and building an interactive community around your brand. The key words are ‘interactive’ and ‘community.’ It’s about building relationships with people.”
Content is key, but followed closely by convenience. I just received news (via e-mail) from Glen Raven Custom Fabrics LLC announcing that it has launched a mobile version of its popular Sunbrella® fabrics website ... “because you never know when the urge to redecorate will strike.” From a handheld device, users will be able to search a fabrics library and find the nearest Sunbrella resource, care and cleaning tips and warranty information from www.sunbrella.mobi. That sort of instant connection probably does not make a sample book obsolete when trying to sell a customer on a custom fabric product—but it could certainly give the impression of an absolutely up-to-date supplier of even a very traditional product or service.
“Sunbrella Mobile is another way in which we are responding to how people want to receive information today,” says Gina Wicker, design and creative director for Sunbrella Fabrics.
So far, I am tweeting neither personally nor professionally—140 characters? Please. That doesn’t get me beyond the subject line. But I can envision myself nudging aside our webmistress at IFAI Expo Americas this fall to send regular updates about the latest information, the coolest products, the nearest wines.
Content is key.