As we start into fall and summer wanes the wave that has been building in social media is about to break and flood us all. To beat the metaphor, the flood is the realization that social media is a critically important business communication tool that isn’t going away. More and more senior marketing people are stating that social strategies are becoming mainstream marketing communications tools for brand development, PR, customer support and satisfaction, and community-building. Companies like Dell are making it central to their marketing efforts. The key word here is ‘central’. This is not a tactic to be delegated to the hinterlands, it is the next iteration of global business communications.
What does this mean?
It means that there is the beginning of a move out of the early adoption phase. In that famous bell curve detailed in Crossing the Chasm new ideas have to break out of the early adopter phase to begin growth into the mainstream. Social media started as something used by an elite few bloggers and nascent social networks created for students. In business the adoption was very slow to take root as many simply questioned the reasons for doing a corporate blog or building an online user-community.
It took some well-publicized PR disasters to wake up the first of the big mainstream businesses to dive into blogging. Dell had well-publicized customer support problems that spread around the blogosphere long before they realized they had a problem. Their response, though belated, was a real turnaround and they now are fully engaged with social media.
I suspect that the turning point is upon us based on my admittedly parochial view of things. 99% of Techrigy’s marketing is social and much of it has been taking place for the first time during this summer when our target markets are typically in vacation mode. Yet, I’m seeing a strong response that is growing as we swing back into fall work mode. Our free community users are increasingly coming to us for professional accounts and service. Agencies are building us into pitches and the brands we’re tracking are growing in stature. Our recent crossing of the half billion mark for results in our social media warehouse is another clue that there is a lot of activity out there.
May we live in interesting times…