I just spent four hours this morning being “social.” Between visiting my Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace sites, sorting through personal “I’m awake and drinking coffee this morning” messages, and jumping to interesting links on the Internet, I quickly burned through half a day.
It seems the information I am bombarded with grows each day. I used to deal with my email and be done with it. Today, I not only have to check my email, but visit several online sites to see if anyone is trying to reach me with important information. I’m slowly being sucked into a social network that combines friends with business associates, and everyone wants a little eyeball time.
Luckily, surfing the Internet and researching the latest printing trends is my job, so I’m already online. I use the Internet for research and to get background for my seminars, books, and articles.
Social media is the latest marketing and Internet trend. It offers content created by individuals that is then shared and discussed over the Internet or through mobile communication devices. It helps people create personal and business relationships using technology.
What drives this new media is that it gives individuals a voice and a platform to reach literally millions of people. Unlike the high cost of starting a publication or radio station, social media tools such as Twitter, YouTube, and MySpace require only a computer and Internet access.
The buzz is about how social media can be used in marketing. If so many people are spending hours checking their networks, there must be a way to push messages out to the masses.
Large corporations, such as Xerox and Kodak, and small hometown printers are creating a presence in the cyberworld. They use it to push information to the user’s landing page and find out if he is interested in learning more. Like traditional media, the challenge is to build an audience and keep providing information and material that will keep the audience interested. Users can turn information on and off, and the key is to keep your information stream turned on.
I predict that there will be specific successful uses for social media in all areas of business, but we will have to wade through a confusing clutter of information to find the killer app that makes the time spent on social media worthwhile. For quick and small commercial printers, the reality is that social media marketing isn’t going to instantly solve the sales and marketing issues they now have. The reality is, most printing companies do such a poor job of marketing in the real world that moving their efforts to the cyberworld will only mean more failure.
Some describe social media marketing as a big networking party. You are making casual contact with various people through the social media platforms. They become aware of you and you become aware of them, but the relationships are still casual at best. Just like in real life, people are attracted to people who interest them. A person must cut through the mundane chatter and provide interesting information that will attract others.
If the person likes you “online” then he might be interested in finding out more about you and visiting your blog or website. Then that person might want a business relationship. Most social media network opportunities are limited, so the person interested in finding out more must be directed to other resources. This could include a blog (an online public diary) or a website.
A printer can join a network, contribute interesting information and comments, and attract interest from others. When others need printing, they might think of you. As in the real world, people buy from people they like. The social media platforms are going to become a major referral network for printers.
Some experts recommend that social media marketing should be integrated into the marketing services printers now sell and become part of an overall campaign. Others think social media marketing can be used to drive business to the print shops. No one knows for sure.