There is a well written article posted today by Chris Wallace titled Social Media is Not a Content Channel. He makes the point that social media is really akin to PR, not marketing; it has to breakthrough and generate interest and action to an extent not usually achieved by advertising or other marketing activities.
But to use social media well, the Brand has to not only generate interest and engagement, it has to stimulate (or nudge) the audience to generate content that will be shared. Basically the goal is to provide the rationale for people to become your vocal Brand Advocates. That’s a tall order, and I don’t think many of us know yet how to do that. Incentivizing Mommy Bloggers to promote the product is not what this is about.
Chris doesn’t quite lay this out, but one can picture a vector of engagement, ranging from passive viewing of advertising to more memorable, emotionally engaging/inciting Public Relations actions, to effective social media initiatives that result in user-generated content and converting consumers into fans. The social media content or actions deployed by the Brand will depend on the Brand’s goal for its social media initiatives (acquire new customers, build share within the existing base, strengthen brand equity….) Right now, those social media activities are likely to reach rather few people compared to traditional media (TV, print), but there is the tantalizing potential for explosive growth in social media reach, given the technology.
Here’s how we might visualize the relationship between degree of engagement and reach. Next week, I’ll blog about using “nudges” to stimulate social media activity and user-generated content.