The resounding success of President-Elect Barack Obama's grassroots campaign is a powerful example that proves why social media must remain part of your media mix this year. In fact, your use of and
spending in social media should continue to grow - just focus on utility and not application doohickeys.
This month's focus is on social media, with T3 group creative directors Kate Donaho and Chris Wooster sharing their thoughts. Their social media work for JCPenney, UPS and Marriott has given them a frontline perspective about how social media connects or misfires with consumers.
Make it useful, not inane.
Chris Wooster: A year ago, social media users happily tossed cows, kisses, birthday cakes and cans of Whoop-Ass at each other. But they've tired of it. Social media is getting smarter. As we watch it evolve, we are watching utility dominate.
Kate Donaho: That smartness comes from understanding your passionistas - your most devout customers - and providing them with the tools and content that bring your brand into their digital lives. I am a big fan of Facebook Connect. It has made your Facebook profile data completely portable and created more seamless connections between Facebook, the things you buy and the content you consume.
CW: The smartness comes from information that's both more useful and more precise.
JS: Clients should really start looking at social media as an avenue for facilitation. In effect, they are sponsoring an information exchange, more than pushing out a specific marketing message. Depending on the utility provided by the social media platform, brands can be an active, welcome part of the exchange or simply stand by.
Hold: Always Being the Alpha Brand
It's about you-you-you, not me-me-me.
JS: If you think of social media as an engaging, dynamic party, few brands want to be the loudmouth in the loud clothes who just wants to talk about "me-me-me." People adore brands. But the brands they choose and the depth of their adoration are on the consumers' terms, not yours.
KD: For brands, as with "friends," authenticity is key in the social space. In some cases, this means finding your brand's true friends and creating, again, the tools and content to actively engage them. In others, brands may want to hang back some and let the party come to them. The true goal is to create meaningful dialogues with your most passionate customers. Give them tools that deepen (and make more public) the natural engagement they have with your brand and your product. Be helpful and be present, but don't be pushy.
CW: Utility, information and uniqueness are now the currency of social communities. Users aren't looking for overt come-ons or "look at me" stunts. Give them something that makes them engage, share, think and, yes, even smile. Be the charming guy at the party.
Sell: Doohickey Applications
Forget the SuperPoke.
KD: We've had our fun, but making social-media doohickeys for the sake of making them doesn't make sense anymore. The market is oversaturated with cute little apps that don't do anything. The fad is past.
CW: Because these fun little applications were a big part of the first wave of social media tools, clients should not fall into the trap of believing that is all there is. Given budget constraints, I could easily
recommend not just cutting back on the trivial, but also applying more thought to social media applications and platforms that do something. Last fall's evolution of Facebook also radically changed how
users interact with applications. If you haven't adjusted your app's angle of attack, you'll be throwing bad money after good.
JS: Experimentation in social media needs to continue. We need to apply our creativity to help people connect and share, giving brands a relevant role in these new and, hopefully, ongoing dialogues.
Kate Donaho (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Chris Wooster (email@example.com) are group creative directors at T3.