Commentary

Making Social Matter

If you want to know what’s going on in social media, watch “the Chew.”

If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a new format talk show that blends together on-camera food demonstrations and celebrity dialogue with online conversations and connections. Just a few years ago, I would have only been able to view that show and possibly visit their Web site to download recipes. Today, their viewers are interacting directly with the featured chefs in real-time and providing instant feedback. That instant feedback is confirmation that the program IS listening to their viewers. Viewers matter. Social matters -- and it’s enabling deeper, richer relationships.

That’s daunting if you think about it. Broadcast networks and programs cannot simply put out one-way programming anymore and expect success. Programming has become one element of an aligned, multichannel, multiplatform content stream. People are not compelled to just listen or watch anymore; they want to participate. They want a two-way dialogue. They want to be immersed. In a recent Hollywood Reporter study, 80 percent of survey respondents used social media as a new form of entertainment.

This isn’t an isolated incident. Social will drive much of our economy in the next 5-10 years and how it will take shape will change your destiny.

The rear-view mirror

A decade ago, brands paid big bucks for exposure on mega portals like MSN, AOL and Yahoo to initiate awareness (Remember the AOL Start Page?). It was how we focused on "getting eyeballs" to our sites. Then came Google search ruling the Internet and YouTube videos we hoped would go viral. And now, we have volatile yet incredibly successful exchanges of ideas happening billions of times a day on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networks. One day you have millions of new referral traffic to your site, and the next it’s taken away from you and you weren’t involved in the decision.

Take it personally

So how do you manage that? There’s an old cliché -- "don’t take it personally." Today, nothing could be further from the truth.

We are in a new era that screams "personal." Relationships matter more today in business and beyond than ever before. Brands should be striving to create their own ultimate experience and think big on every platform: Web sites, mobile apps, second screens, even a times square billboard and not be beholden to a new Facebook tool, or a new algorithm change on Google. As more and more brands and publishers deliver innovative experiences on their own platforms, they’re striking a deeper, intimate chord with their customers -- one that can be monetized over that customer’s relationship. Social conversations, photos, and videos that fans are generating quickly become the real-time lifeblood of the brand, expressing a new sort of energy and pulse for the brand of tomorrow -- done Today.

You can take it wth you

Just 18 months ago, brands said only five to eight percent of their customers were using or requesting their mobile-connected apps. Today that number is north of 30 percent or more. That’s a huge jump -- and illustrative as to why brands need to deploy a full, end-to-end social strategy across all their platforms. Experiences should follow the user wherever they go. For example, if I deploy real-time comments, they should be visible on a Web site, tablet and other smart devices. Be a "super brand" to your "super fans" by offering anytime access on any platform -- deliver the "ultimate experience" to a fan, no matter if they are at home, at a ballgame, or 30,000 feet up in a plane. It’s as simple as that.

What began as a simple promotional tool over a decade ago is growing into a powerful, interactive experience that is driving new streams of revenue. It’s encouraging to see brands like ABC, USA Network, and WWE harnessing the power of real-time Web solutions to scale their on-demand views and ratings. These examples deliver a huge payoff when it comes to driving new ad dollars. Social is open for business -- and it’s opening the doors for new revenue streams.

 

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