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Become Socially Acceptable —Sherburne

April 2010

LAST MONTH, I wrote about the Apple iPad in this space, and what effect this new device and others like it might have upon your business. This month, I would like to turn back to the subject of social media.

At the crux of understanding what is happening in the world of customer communications is understanding how consumer behavior has changed, and how social media has driven a huge change in this area. If you are not participating in some way, whether business or personal, you should be. This is not going away.

The first things that come to mind, of course, are sites like YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace, as well as services like Twitter. But, the idea of social media goes far beyond that. I turned to one of my favorite—though not necessarily most accurate—Internet resources for a definition.

Wikipedia, which is a form of social media itself, defines social media as "media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses Internet and Web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogs (many to many). It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from content consumers into content producers."

All About Interaction

That's really the key: Transforming people from content consumers into content producers. Today, many brand owners are experimenting with how they can use social media to not only promote their brands, but to build a community around their brands and to monitor what consumers are saying about their brands.

Yet, last February, eMarketer estimated that businesses will spend more than $2.2 billion on social media advertising in 2010. Those dollars are likely coming from traditional media such as print and broadcast, and even events.

Komori decided not to attend Graph Expo, and is using the time and funds saved to do some "out-of-the-box" marketing, which includes social media. You can follow them on Twitter—just search for KomoriAmerica. GoPrint, a printing establishment in Puerto Rico, is very active on Twitter, in both Spanish and English. The company occasionally promotes its products, but largely uses the medium to establish itself as a thought leader.

Social media includes the sites mentioned earlier, but it also includes blogs, podcasts, wikis and more. Blog is short for Web log. Anyone can start a blog, and anyone can comment on the original blog entries. It is a unique and compelling way to get a dialog going on a particular subject.



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