social media has been with us four decades
The history of social media is credited mostly to the last decade with social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. While these sites most definitely propelled social media to new heights, the truth is they don’t represent the original social networking platforms. Would you believe me if I told you that social media started in 1969? Don’t believe me? Click the social media chronology image to the left to see for yourself.
The reality is that email and bulletin board services (BBS) should be credited with the foundation to the social media revolution of the 2000’s. Prior to that we didn’t have the digital culture, aka mindset, of communicating and engaging through online services.
Social Media Marketing is a Mindset
When my book Marketing 2.0, launched in 2009 I wrote that the biggest obstacle to successful social media marketing by any business is the mindset shift needed to adopt the social culture. And, three years later we still face the same issue. We’ve made progress, but I argue not that much. It doesn’t matter that we have more social media communication and engagement channels today than we did in 2005 or 2009. Social media channels like Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Foursquare weren’t here or popular in 2009. But, so what? The social media sites your business uses don’t drive success. If your business doesn’t have the mindset to use social media as channels to connect, engage, share and build trust with your current and prospective future customers, you’re totally missing the point of social media. And, it doesn’t matter if you’re a B2C or B2B.
Social Media Becomes Social Business
Go back to the infographic above on the chronology of social media. Notice that in 2011 social media becomes social business. Some may consider this a play on words. But, those enterprises who have truly embraced the social media mindset understand what it means to be a social business. A social business understands that it is B2H (business to human). Others prefer the phrase H2H (human to human). Whichever phrase works for you, consider the first word in the phrase social business – “social.” Businesses that only use social media as broadcasting and advertising platforms are not social. Rather, these businesses are ignoring the “social” aspect and instead just using the “media” part to re-purpose yesterday’s marketing tactics across social media channels.
A true social business understands at the executive level the importance of employee’s participation in engaging with customers, other employees, suppliers, partners, their local community and even competitors through digital channels. A true social business understands the importance of authentic engagement with the community. A true social business understands how to deliver a relevant and pleasant experience that may have no sales call-to-action through digital channels. And, a true social business understands that employees have the potential to build a personal brand that can have a halo effect on the business.
The naysayers argue that only the marketing communications department is responsible for social engagement with customers. But, you can visit the Social Business Index to see how many businesses are being measured on these relatively new criteria.
Social Marketing is a Path to Social Business
I would like to believe that 2012 is the year of the social business. But, I am a realist. It will take a few more years for organizations to get the DNA of social business. So, I propose that businesses consider a bridge to social business through social marketing. Candidly, it’s somewhat semantics, but for many businesses it’s a viable bridge. Many businesses are simply not ready to become a social business. By embracing social media as communication and engagement channels, these businesses can begin to transition toward becoming a social business. One critical element to social marketing as a bridge to social business is to encourage employee participation through their social networking. Every business has the opportunity to leverage the social participation of its employees. It starts with an invitation. By inviting employees to share relevant content that is engaging to your target community, the business begins to build the mindset of a social business.
As you ponder the 40 year history of social media, consider your business’ path to becoming a social business by embracing social marketing.