I often get asked on the benefits of Social Media: “How should we leverage social media for advertising and marketing?” or “What do we need to consider when incorporating social media into our existing strategy?”
There are still a lot of questions surrounding social media.
The simple way to get a grasp on it is to first understand how information flows through social media.
Visualizing The Circulation Evolution
I like to visualize information so I’ve created the following graphics to describe how content travels through the traditional media channels.
As you can see in the traditional model, content gets created (by few sources) then aggregated into the circulation 1.0 channel of print, radio, television, and the web.
These “read-only” materials get pushed out on a one-to-many process requiring users to retrieve them.
Take newspaper as an example: it all starts with the editor creating the content, then it goes through a review process before it gets printed on paper, and finally delivers to you so you can start reading the content.
This is a top-down approach for content distribution with maximum control
Now let’s looks at how social media elevates the content circulation in the 2.0 model.
In this model, everyone is a content producer enabling user-generated content to scale efficiently.
When you have millions of people contributing content, it creates a many-to-many race to publish and distribute information.
As a result, the content now comes to you, pulling you to consume.
In addition, the nature of web 2.0 allows content to be syndicated and shared almost instantaneously.
Finally let’s incorporate circulation 2.0 as part of the circulation 1.0 and you get the “hybrid” model:
I call this circulation 1.5 because it retains the traditional media’s channel of distribution while adding web 2.0 into the mix.
The concept is to leverage the best of both worlds from 1.0 and 2.0 to gain maximum impact for brand exposure and brand awareness.
Beyond Circulation 2.0
Most brands are still on circulation 1.0 networks and many are on the path to circulation 2.0 by adding social media to their traditional media channels.
The great thing about circulation 2.0 is that everyone is pulling your content creating a natural word-of-mouth marketing that’s pervasive.
However, as the speed of these dynamic conversation becomes even more instantaneous, in the case of Twitter, the content producer have less control.
Content can get interpreted out of context and then passed along down the line just like that telephone game we all played in kindergarten.
This is why many companies are using social media primary as a service function for reputation management and customer support.
That’s exactly what Zappos, PizzaHut, Intuit, and Dell have done by leveraging Twitter for those purposes.
This creates transparency and adds authenticity to the brand which is where social media has taken us to so far. Moving forward brands must rethink the intend of their products and services and manage expectations carefully through positioning and messaging.
After the financial meltdown last year there is a lack of trust for brands and a definitive shift on perceived value.
That’s why there is such an acceleration in social media because people demand to know the truth and in many ways social media allows us to get closer to what really is happening.
When Twitter was first launched in July 2006 (happy 3 year birthday!) it was intended to be a quick update for your groups of friends.
Today it has evolved to a social networking tool to report, react, and discuss anything from news to random thoughts.
It will probably continue to evolve because of the fluidness of the platform has allow users to take the service in completely unexpected directions.
Now that’s good for innovation, they just need to figure out a business model for monetization.
The fact is traditional media still reaches far more audience than social media as I write this post. I’m sure I’ll circle back in the future as things may change in unexpected ways too.
Let me know what you think.