Day One at the Social Media Intelligence Conference yielded thoughtful amendments to the word-of-mouth textbook on enterprise-level social media strategy. As the opportunities for social networking expand exponentially, so do the possibilities they offer.
You'll still hear no (smart) business person deny the relative infancy of social data, but like the medium itself, a pervasiveness of theory, experimentation, pontification and opinion is helping to shift some preconceived notions into practiced, applicable strategy.
It's A One-Way Mirror
Dorothea Bozicolona-Volpe's keynote had a purposeful stride which succinctly summarized the most basic ideals of utilizing social media in a business environment. Volpe argues that this stuff is in our DNA, and we have an innate capacity for it. And sometimes it does seem to be the graphical representation of our inner monologue, reflecting everything from our most profound realizations to our most mundane events.
There's a prominent looking glass right before our eyes, where we're compelled to notice and analyze our lives as they happen, potentially causing more narrating than living. Smart businesses capitalize on your vanity; absorbing your narration, converting it to data and, ideally, responding with an affirmation that you've been recognized in order to kickstart the cycle again. We are in a worldwide focus group, except we don't know when we're being watched (assume: always).
When you go through the looking glass to observe the unfiltered world, you get truly honest data. These are, as Jesse Gross of Semphonic put it, unsampled, unsimplified, real-world totals. How many marketers have yearned to be a fly on the wall, gaining real insight into the perception of their product? Sally Falkow pointed out that while that used to be a dream, it's now a standard and fundamental tool at our disposal.
Transparency = Authenticity
The social landscape has no hiding and no gatekeeping. There exists unfettered creativity, constant interaction and complete visibility. Not only do mistakes and issues refuse to be buried, they are frequently propelled to viral fame. People love to promote inspiration and discourage deception. En masse via social media, they have the power to do both.
To encourage a positive response, initiate a positive emotion. To dispel disparaging accusations, admit wrongdoing and offer to make amends. Don't deny or deflect, because authenticity earns respect, not avoidance. The consumer holds grudges, and is pretty damn wary of being deceived.
We're Not Kidding Around Anymore
The truth is, the Internet is social by nature. Whatever persona we thought this phenomenon would embody, that's where it has gone. Social interaction is woven into the technology, as it serves to provide worldwide connectivity. Policing connectivity by attaching each interaction to a real, live person is what social media does. That has the added bonus of making each interaction valuable and measurable, rather than ambiguous or distant (like an impression or a visitor). Like the average social media user, responding to your emotions is not only innate, but useful. Merging intuition with data should make for a pretty effective combination.