Omar Jamil, CEO Latitude blogs for Aurora from New Delhi
Session 5 – From Chat Rooms to Twitter… What next?
Session 5 – From Chat Rooms to Twitter… What next?
Kate Day, Communities Editor, Daily Telegraph Online
Arvind Rajan, Managing Director & Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan, LinkedIn
Earl Wilkinson, Executive Director and CEO, INMA
Moderator: Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, VivaKi
The panel theme reverses the conference theme – Certainty, the new uncertainty. The focus is around social media. Social media is going to be huge – the new certainty. The uncertainty? What does the rise of social media mean for media companies, for brands, for agencies? Here is where the uncertainty arises.
Session kicks off with Kate Day – in terms of social media, she makes three observations. The first, what’s next? What’s the next big thing? Where is the next Facebook coming from? Her answer, theshift will come from people and not platforms. As a journalist, for Kate it is about her relationship with media; for brands, it’s about connecting with audiences.
(Must note here, that the organisational arrangements are a tad shoddy – given the lack of seating space, I’m sitting in a neighbouring room set up with a big screen. However, given the low volume and the chatter of the crowd, it’s near impossible to understand what’s being said unless one sits right up next to the screen. I asked one of the ‘gophers’ running around to raise the volume, but so far no cigar).
The second – talk to your audiences – whoever and where they are; and the third, challenge your assumptions… A lot of what Kate is saying should not be news for social media aficionados. So forexample, she stresses the importance of following insights and analytics – e.g. if you have a Facebook page, make sure you analyse the usage and regular check the insights.
Arvind is up next – starts off talking about Twitter… Stresses the importance of looking beyond Facebook and Twitter…
(Another asides: am sitting next to a live blogger who has also just complained about the shoddy Wifi and lack of network – given the amount spent by delegates, I think these basics should have been covered).
Back to the session – tracking audiences, developing trust and then leveraging that trust. Again, these are not new insights for people familiar with the workings of social media. But then I suppose most of the audience here are not from digital backgrounds and so need to be ‘educated’ – which, to me, begs the question: how come there doesn’t appear to be greater representation from digital and social media agencies? One would imagine that’s an obvious one…
On to Earl – starts four key points for media companies which go beyond Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Point 1: sharing has become the value added special sauce for journalism online (agreed). Newspaper websites with robust sharing capabilities are seeing an increase in engagement and audiences. Point 2: especially for media companies, smaller companies, individuals can copy what we do – Earl disagrees. Point 3: Must become curators of conversations of conversations with our communities – so not just enabling conversations but also controlling and moderating – I totally agree. Finally, projecting newspapers and magazines as trusted media online and then bringing the conversations into the loop. Media owners becoming trusted voices in the blogosphere and then bringing the conversations back to the newspaper/magazine website.
One way of looking at social media – people’s network. I like this – links back to what Nikesh was saying. Back to the basics – back to word of mouth – difference is that today word of mouth scale. You can Tweet something and reach 1,000 people, who could retweet it to another 1000. And so on. So the ability to go viral quickly.
Interesting observation: television usage in US at all-time high… why? Because of social media. Because people go online and talk about their favourite shows (excellent examples are the E! Online Blog and TVline.com).
Sharing – if you go to the NY Times from your iPad – one of the tabs on the top is ‘Share this through email’. Rishad points out that this is now one of the most widely used ways that people read news content. Earl references a survey called ‘the psychology of sharing’ – sharing information allows the owner to explore more, own more, read more… “The power of sharing is insane,” says Earl.
For Kate, a big change has come through reader interaction – readers determining which content they like, what they like to read more of etc. This in turn helps improve the journalism, but also changes how they approach journalism, or the stories they look at. Gives the example of a story on a murder that went into the paper as a small story, but when the paper saw the interaction and feedback on the web (comments etc), they realised a huge interest in the story and went back and did a bigger, more in-depth piece.
Obviously, social media has had a huge impact on all forms of content and content consumption. This is especially relevant for print media companies – especially newspapers – as it allows (as Kate points out) a new way of creating interactivity between the reader and the content owner. Kate: “Social media gives you a great way to find people who are interested in content.”
And of course, Kate points out the growing interest of advertisers in targeting the Telegraph’s social media users. Because they fit a certain demographic, and obviously because of the inherent targetability.
Best quote so far from Arvind, “[Social media is about] Fishing where the fish are.” The conversation is already happening; if you’re not a part of it, you’re missing you. Once you become part of the conversation, then you can influence the conversation. Of course, the first step is to get your target audience to trust that the content and conversations you’re putting forward provide real value. Gives example of Phillips, which brought in thought leaders to talk about various industry relevant subjects – without talking about or plugging Phillips. The result was that they successfully engaged their audiences, built trust and were then able to control and direct the conversation.
Another interesting observation: heavy user is not necessarily the same as a heavy influencer – contrary to popular belief. Another observation: amongst heavy influencers, the more influential are detractors – who are more often than not not heavy users. So in a people’s network world, you need to speak to advocates. This is KEY. Because brands often target the heavy users – people who might be more active on the network. Instead you need to take a more ‘tipping point’esque approach, targeting influencers and mavens.
Final words of advice…
Rishad – not an area to be a scholar, be an apprentice. If you’re not using social media, you should. Even if you don’t want to tweet, you should be following people. And if you’re not on social media, you should change careers from marketing! Manage your LinkedIn bio… get onto Facebook. Be on Google +
Earl – if you’re nowhere right now, just get on! Start Tweeting, start creating a social presence, encourage it on your staff, encourage it on your reporters. And once you’ve got some critical mass, you can structure and plan on it. If you are already on, don’t automate. People know and understand and they need to feel there is a person, a human being, a soul behind the voice (this is something I always tell clients). That voice needs to be authentic. And go beyond Facebook, Twitter. Get into the blogosphere, start joining communities, add value to conversations. Key takeaway is that social media has opened up the concept of sharing.
Arvind – a tremendous amount of business that can be done on LinkedIn. So get smart about it. Journalists break stories every week on social media. Remember it’s not just about building a company page on Facebook or LinkedIn – it’s about building a community. Use your employees. As long as you make clear guidelines on what they should and should not talk about. This isn’t about telling them what to say – but more about providing guidelines for discussions. Educating them about how their onlineconversations can help build your brand online.
Kate – two things to add. First thing is listening. Almost a cliché, but crucial. Not just about what people saying directly, but also listening to the data, to the clues, which are the most important stories, what’re the patterns. Then feed those findings, that data back into your company.