Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Marketers Move to Twitterville

As a student in the Northwestern Medill IMC marketing program, we discuss how marketers need to keep up with trends and the growing capabilities in social media. According to Eric Wittlake's blog on Digital and B2B Marketing, all media WILL become social media. His blog raises several good points about the spread of social media. It is clear that companies and consumers are already beginning to accept the fact that everything digital is everything social. A good question was raised asking if there will continue to be lines between sites and social media that each site owner can choose to cross. I can confidently respond with a “No.” Social media is so popular that any site and social media are inseparable. As a rising generation of marketers enter the work space, a digital and social media skill set will be required to grow any business.

According to the Nielsen Company, global consumers increased the amount of time they spent on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter by 82% in December 2009 compared to December 2008. The graph below not only indicates the increase in usage but also dependence on social media in just the past two years alone.

              However, something even more important to note is that marketers have already begun to lose control. An excellent example of this is the vast spread of Honest Tea. Honest Tea does little marketing and most people hear about it by word of mouth. They didn’t expect a lot of earned media from the Honest City campaign, yet their campaigns were spotted and spread like wildfire. Honest Tea is a perfect example of viral marketing and characterizes the basic dynamics of “buzz”. A company can no longer allow the public to spread the message; they will surrender their control over how it will spread.
              I am currently reading a book in my Public Relations course through the Northwestern Medill IMC program called Twitterville-How Business can Thrive in New Global Neighborhoods. The title alone should be a red flag for most companies. The author, Shel Israel, expands on the fact that companies no longer have the option of ignoring conversations.  Israel guarantees “no matter where a person is from or what they do for a living, they will find conversations on Twitter that are valuable.” Essentially, social media is not only where information spreads but also where people become excited about different topics, products, and places. The quick shift from information sharing to being called to action by excitement is what marketers need to watch out for.

             Essentially, marketers may be losing control of how messages about their products or services are spreading, yet they can still work on improving their strategic intuition when it comes to using social media to grow their businesses. Within the next couple of years, the amount of time spent on social networking sites will increase dramatically and marketers must develop effective communication plans through these high traffic channels.

Margarita Lamas 
Undergraduate Northwestern IMC 
Twitter: @maggielamas1

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