Social media has overtaken pornography as the number one online activity, according to Hitwise data. Facebook added 100 million users in less than a year to top the 200 million user mark. If Facebook were a country, it would overtake Indonesia as the fourth largest country in the world by September at this pace.
Social media's growth is now being aided by the Baby Boomer generation. The fastest growing segment on Facebook is composed of females age 55 to 65 as they try to better connect with their kids and grandchildren. Heck, even the Pope has joined Facebook, launching a social media connection site.
With things moving so quickly, how can companies and marketers stand a chance at keeping up with it all? First, admit that you can't keep up.
But, that doesn't mean you should throw up your hands in despair. Some fundamental principles will help you keep your sanity and reap a healthy return. Here are 15 social media maxims:
- Successful marketers will be more like Dale Carnegie and less like David Ogilvy; listen first, sell second.
- Consumers are looking to peers for recommendations on products, services, health issues, and more via social media. Only companies that produce products and services of great value will be part of these conversations; mediocrity will quickly be eliminated.
- Social media's ability to quickly disseminate information among friends and peers helps eliminate different people performing the same tasks (multiple individual redundancies), whether it's researching the best vacation spot or smart phone. This results in a more efficient society.
- The old adage that you can only have two of these -- cheap, quick, or quality -- doesn't hold true within social media. It's possible to have all three.
- Successful social media marketers will function more like entertainment companies, publishers, or party planners rather than as traditional advertisers.
- With the increasing popularity of e-books, there will be new digital media placement opportunities for brands. This is very similar to product placement in movies, only this is for books, and the placements are clickable and measurable.
- The most successful social media and mobile applications are those that allow users to brag, compete, or look cool by passing it on.
- The transparency and speed of information exchanged within social media mitigates casual schizophrenic behavior. Having a "work" personality and having a "party" personality will soon become extinct. People and companies will need to have one essence and be true to that essence.
- Being "well-rounded" as a company or individual is less beneficial. It's more productive to play to your core strength. This differentiates you from the competition.
- Companies that produce great products and services rather than companies that simply rely on great messaging will be winners in a Socialnomic™ world. The social graph is the world's largest and most powerful referral program.
- Marketers' jobs have changed from creating and pushing to one that requires listening, engaging, and reacting to potential and current customer needs.
- Making multiple mistakes within social media is far better than doing nothing at all.
- If you're a large brand, you can rest assured that there are conversations, pages, and applications constantly being developed around your brand and by the community at large. The social community is "doing" social media even if your company chooses not to.
- The information exchanged in social media in relation to job searching and recruiting has rendered it unrecognizable from the information exchanged 10 years ago. Appropriate matches between employer and employee have increased as a result of an increased information flow.
- The overall achievement of individuals and companies will be largely dependent on their social media success.
These principles should help guide you to social media success. If you stumble along the way, who knows, in the coming days you just might be able to "poke" God for advice.
Join us for Search Engine Strategies Toronto, June 8-10, 2009, at the Sheraton Centre Toronto.