Forrester Research reports advertisers will spend $716 million on social media marketing (including ads on social networks, corporate blogs, etc.) in 2010, and that number will grow 34 percent to top $3.1 billion by 2014. The investment shift reflects changing consumer behavior and acknowledgement that consumers increasingly learn about brands — e.g., their employees, customers and even competitors — via social networks.
While search growth shows signs of slowing, the conversations happening in social settings — which aren’t slowing down — drive search behavior. They reflect the sum of all strategic decisions that affect a brand’s ability to efficiently increase its value over time. In turn, proactive marketers and investor relations pros are making up for the slowing growth of search by leveraging social media for new growth. However, in order for social media to invite an emotional attachment and deliver tangible shareholder value, it needs to scale within an organization from the top down.
Networking solutions provider Novell is embracing social media as a strategic foundation on which it does business. According to John Dragoon, chief marketing officer for Novell, “The ‘social’ part of social media means that you have to get as many people involved as possible …” At a time when Novell profits slipped amid uncertainty, the company refocused on a clear sense of purpose and a mission to deliver unique customer value one step at a time. Social media helped the company communicate these accomplishments not just to customers, but to shareholders, its workforce and others.
For Novell and other companies that want to improve external communications, it only makes sense to embrace the efficiency and searchability of social media. Today, consumers create their own media schedules and can easily edit, copy, produce and distribute content. Furthermore, with internet television services like Google TV coming soon, it’s only a matter of time before C-level executives foster two-way dialogs with key stakeholders in searchable media.
Therefore, it’s best for companies to think about social media in the form of content and context.
Content: Social media can complement formal press releases. It provides a forum for quality, two-way dialog with key stakeholders to evaluate where a company has been, where it’s going and other important topics of value to participants.
Context: Inbound links and topical content webs convey the strategic value of a product/service within the context of the business/marketplace. They answer critical, high-value questions like:
- What do customers do with your product or service?
- How does your solution solve a consumer pain point?
- What’s unique and differentiating about your product or service relative to the competition?