The Value of Social Media – ForumOne’s Interview with Aaron

Earlier this week, my friend, Bill Johston at ForumOne Communications was kind enough to interview me for an article on their Online Community Summit Report. The interview is cross-posted below.

At the end of the day, companies will enjoy the greatest success when they are coordinating all of their efforts and driving their customers to their online communities and/or social outposts…

What should the role of social media be in a company’s marketing mix?
I like how you worded your question. It implies that social media SHOULD be in a company’s marketing mix vs. being a standalone solution. At the end of the day, companies will enjoy the greatest success when they are coordinating all of their efforts and driving their customers to their online communities and/or social outposts on places like LinkedIn and Facebook. In those places, customers and prospects alike can interact with a company’s employees, talk to one another, interact with content that company has created to provide a learning experience and ultimately, feel more a part of the company’s brand.

How would you differentiate between social media and online community?
Social media in its truest form is really any content – text, video or audio – that allows people to comment on, discuss or interact with. The most common examples of social media in my mind are blogs, Twitter, podcasts, and video sites like Youtube. Online community requires both content, tools like forums, ratings/reviews, tagging AND social profiles. It’s the latter that creates “community” because members are able to connect to one another moving from a “what you know” to a “who you know” model.

There has been a lot of noise recently about the “death of corporate blogging”. What is your take, are corporate blogs still important? What makes a successful corporate blog?
Corporate blogs are far from dead. In fact, I think they are just getting started. However, you are correct when you mention that corporate blogs are getting a bad rap. There was a recent Forrester report by Josh Bernoff that stated that only 16% of Americans trust corporate blogs. To be honest, I’m surprised that number is as high as it is. Many of the corporate blogs I’ve browsed are not that good. Most are very inward focused and only want to talk about how great the company is or how great it’s employees are. Unfortunately, this isn’t what its readers want. They are looking for value, insights and a way to better connect with the brand. Until companies can better deliver on that promise, corporate blogs will continue to struggle.

I (and others) have commented on your expert use of twitter. What do you feel the core values of twitter are to a business, and what advice would you have for burgeoning twitter users?
Let me start by saying that you are too kind. I’ve been at the “Twitter” thing for a while now and I’ve learned a lot over that time. For one, it’s very important to be authentic. People appreciate other folks that are comfortable in their own skin. Even more important is understanding the value of “give before you get.” This is probably the hardest one for anyone to abide by. That’s mainly because when Twitter asks, “What are you doing,” it feels like you should talk about yourself. WRONG. Talk about other smart people you’re meeting. Point to good articles or blog posts. Comment on how funny someone’s last tweet was. At the end of the day, if you do those things, the benefits will come back to you in spades.

If you would like to hear more from Aaron, as well as Rob Harles of Sears Holdings and Kate Neiderhoffer of the Dachis Group (formerly with Nielsen) and me, join us for Building a Business Case for Social Marketing“, which will be held live on Wednesday, January 28th, at 2:00 PM. We will discuss real-world experiences in managing online communities and provide practical advice on how to build an effective business case and overall strategy for social marketing and community initiatives.

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2 Responses

  1. Aaron, great points again, and looking forward to the webinar next week (was this rescheduled from last Wednesday- 2 days ago?)
    Bill- look forward to catching up…

  2. I the efforts you have put in this, thanks for all the great articles.

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