Going Social

Excite Customers, Generate Buzz, and Energize Your Brand with the Power of Social Media

 Going Social

Author: Jeremy Goldman
Pub Date: November 2012
Print Edition: $19.95
Print ISBN: 9780814432556
Page Count: 288
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814432563

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Social Marketing: Even More Important Than You Think

AVINASH KAUSHIK, Analytics Evangelist at Google, famously

said: “Social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. Nobody

knows how. When it’s finally done there is surprise it’s not better.”1

In a similar vein, many business owners see social marketing as

something that will change their businesses fortunes forever and

perhaps overnight. However, they don’t know what they’re doing,

and they don’t get the results they expected.

If you’re reading this book, you’ve most likely realized how

important it is for your business to use social marketing effectively.

You’re probably also aware of how much the Internet is used for

social marketing: socializing and sharing information. To drive that

point home, the story of a solitary man walking on the side of a

highway off-ramp in central Ohio offers a good example of how

quickly things spread on the Internet.

The man is named Ted Williams, and, for quite some time now,

he’s been panhandling by the exit of I-71 that leads onto Hudson

Street in Columbus. Thousands of people drive past him each day,

presumably paying him no attention. True, data aren’t available on

this, but it seems unlikely that many people mention to their friends

that they saw a panhandler as they exited the highway.

All of that changed in the first week of 2011. The Columbus

Dispatch posted a short video of an interview with Williams,

dubbing his voice “golden” for its perfect, radio-quality pitch. The

video was ripped from the newspaper’s website and posted on

YouTube by a Good Samaritan, along with the following brief message:

“Throwing this video from The Columbus Dispatch out there,

hoping we can find this talent a place to call home.”

Soon the sheer oddity of a bedraggled man speaking in such a clear,

voiceover-quality tone touched a nerve with a number of people,

who forwarded it to their social networks. Within hours, Williams

had job offers. Mind you, he hadn’t applied for these jobs through

LinkedIn or CareerBuilder; these employers contacted him after

hearing his voice via YouTube forwarding. They also weren’t momand-

pop businesses; some of these offers came from the Cleveland

Cavaliers and the National Football League. Williams ultimately

accepted an offer to be the new voice of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

Humans Beings Are Social

Within just a few hours of birth, newborns try to imitate the facial

gestures of the first people they meet—an early attempt to socially

interact. Humans have such a need to be social that we’re social

even when we’re still inside our mothers’ wombs. Researchers

recently used ultrasound to record the interactions of twins and

found that the twosomes were reaching out for one another at 14

weeks of age. That means people have a propensity toward social

action, which is already present before birth. “These findings force

us to predate the emergence of social behavior,” says Umberto

Castiello of the University of Padova, one of the researchers who

led the study. “When the context enables it, as in the case of twin

pregnancies, social movements, i.e., movements specifically aimed

at another individual, are observed well before birth.”

Given how social we are, it makes sense that people will find

ways to “bake” social features into new technologies. In fact, there’s

been a tremendous paradigm shift in the last few years, in that the

fastest growing and most influential digital companies are the ones

that create websites and applications that are more people-centric,

such as Facebook, rather than technology-centric or algorithm-centric,

such as Google. As a matter of fact, companies like Google are

moving more toward people-centric models with social channels

like Google+, as we’ll discuss later. We are moving into a world

where we will be able to bring our online identities and networks

with us wherever we go.

The human need for social interaction is more important than

the need for material goods and monetary wealth. Don’t believe

that? Think about the foundation on which a site like Facebook is

built. On social networking sites, the users create the vast majority

of content, which in turn is monetized by the company owning the

social network. The hottest web properties are nearly entirely comprised

of things that users contribute for free. Take YouTube as an

example: On average, 60 hours of video are uploaded every minute;

every week, users upload the equivalent of 240,000 feature-length

films. It would take you approximately eight years to view all the

content that gets uploaded on any given day.4

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and similar sites are social hubs,

and our need to be social runs pretty deep. To survive, people

require food, shelter, and clothing at a minimum. Once people

have those things, the next thing they typically desire is to be able

to socially connect with others. Paul Cohen, founder of Cog -

nection, has built a business around human social behavior, and he

has found that humans are hardwired to be social: It’s helpful for

us to keep track of whom we’re indebted to and whom we should

probably delete from our iPhone’s address book. “If you look at

social networking based on its ability to enable reciprocity, it makes

complete sense that we want to engage in prosocial behaviors,”

Paul explains. “It makes it easier for us to transmit social signals

that allow us to reciprocate.”

People want a place to hang out virtually and interact much more

than they want to make a quick buck. Does that statement sound outrageous?

Consider the following: In an effort to attract users away

from Google and Yahoo, Microsoft offered cash rewards so that customers

would run searches on its Bing search engine. When users

shopped online using Bing, Microsoft sent users refunds of as much

as 50 percent of their purchase.5 When Bing started aggressively

offering this feature, its market share was 8 percent, compared with

Yahoo’s 20 percent and Google’s 65 percent.6 By most accounts, Bing

Rewards helped contribute to Bing’s growth; it reached 12 percent of

the U.S. market by December 2010. Yet during that time, its growth

was far outpaced by the top social networks. In 2010, Facebook grew

48 percent in the United States, with many emerging countries growing

at even faster rates.7 In 2010 alone, Twitter opened up more than

100 million accounts.8 The desire to socialize and make meaningful

connections with friends and strangers online is outpacing the need

to search, even when incentives such as refunds are thrown in. People

are apparently more interested in socializing than in making a dollar

for searching for fleece penguin pajamas on Bing.

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