There are both upsides and downsides to life in the social media world. On the down side, online anonymity and the freedom to customize your media gadgets, friends, and information sources can lead to self-indulgent behavior. On the plus side, social media opens up extraordinary possibilities for personal connection and intellectual and geographic discovery. Both sides are on full display in an interesting new white paper from Euro RSCG Worldwide titled “Social Life and Social Media.”
Euro RSCG found several noteworthy trends that have developed as a consequence of broader social media usage. The first is the rise of hyperlocalism, e.g. the ability to connect via community websites or more easily find local businesses. (Though relatively new to social media, local search has long been a facet of search engine optimization.) Another is a more intense emphasis on self as social networking enables greater customization or personalization of one’s online world. A related finding is that social media users are more willing to take risks or engage in daring behavior—both bad (posting Facebook photos that could lead to employment trouble) and good (feeling more empowered to meet new people or do something you’ve always wanted).
“Social Life and Social Media” provides four takeaways for companies that are currently involved in social media marketing:
• Embrace the trend, ride the fads
The benefits of social media are more important than particular technologies or social networking sites. Build your social media strategy using today’s most popular sites, but be prepared for tomorrow’s trends, such as mobile.
• Aim to participate, not dominate
Social media is about organic, consumer-driven communication. Unlike traditional marketing, companies and brands are on the periphery of the medium rather than in control. Creativity and authentic interaction are essential.
• Stop thinking online/offline; start thinking interaction
The theme of social interaction should trump marketing divisions such as online vs. offline or old media vs. new media. From senior executives on down, employees must be familiar with and understand the possibilities of social media.
• Pay attention to location-specific initiatives
In social media, Euro RSCG writes, “the most powerful interactions are those with ‘local,’ face-to-face qualities.” Rather than scale up, social media marketing challenges companies to scale down and meet the needs of individual, local consumers.