Actionable Social Media - brands move from listening to participating

Keeping pace with rapid change in Internet business communications has always been a great challenge for companies and PR professionals.

Keeping pace with rapid change in Internet business communications has always been a great challenge for companies and PR professionals. In the last 12 years alone, we've gone through the adoption of Web site strategies, the impact of e-mail and instant messaging, the growth of electronic journalism, the role of blogs in business, and so much more.

Blink an eye in this business and you will definitely miss some of the greatest opportunities to position your brand and grow your business. That's one of the reasons many companies are now mapping out strategic plans and marshalling resources to take advantage of one of next biggest opportunities since the advent of the WWW. It's called “Actionable Social Media.”

For years, brands have been tracking, monitoring, and analyzing every form of media, from broadcast to print to online, including the so-called newest media channel – consumer-generated media and social networks. When it comes to the online world, the days of listening only are over.

According to Pew Internet Research nearly 50% of all Americans are now contributing content to the Web with more than 1 million new articles of content uploaded every 24 hours. To put that into perspective, there is as much content on YouTube today as there was on the entire Web just seven years ago.

Forward-thinking brands like Dell, Microsoft, GM, and Unilever/Dove already understand the value of participating in social media - and not just for the sake of participation. They've either developed or are developing strategic internal processes to understand the impact of Actionable Social Media on their bottom lines. That means knowing exactly how and when to participate and tying it back to corporate and product line business objectives.

By defining actionable reasons to participate based on the culture of your company, it becomes a lot easier to figure out how to join this new era of Internet communications and opportunity. I think Bob Pearson, VP of communications at Dell says it best: “Companies have two choices. Join the conversation now or procrastinate and the join the conversation later anyway.”

Mike Spataro is a VP with Visible Technologies, a provider of social media technologies and online reputation management. He blogs at www.visinsights.com and can be contacted at mike@visibletechnologies.com.

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