A lot of energy is going into social media marketing. Some of it is in our face via advertising in social media communities like Facebook, the use of Twitter by companies and politicians and more subtle changes in technology. Some of the approaches to social media marketing are in how companies use blogging to connect with clients. Adobe recently moved 1200 blogs to WordPress platforms. Who would think a company would have 1200 blogs! Technology is changing so fast many have ignored how it is happening, but have opted into participation via their Ipads, cell phones and other personal computing devices. Most new televisions are now easily net-workable to your Internet connection by Ethernet cable or wireless connectivity. Social Media content is surrounding you and companies are wise to this method of branding and promoting.
We all see the advertisements by major companies that typically also have a presence in all the major social media communities. Although the business of Social Media marketing isn’t anywhere near being fine tuned, many companies are finding ways to successfully connect with communities that they used to reach via television and print, the “old” way of communicating with current and prospective customers. Where television and print was easy to “opt out”, Social Media is easy to opt in. Even better for companies seeking channels to promote and brand through, there is no lack of places to be. Although most think of Social Media as places like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace, in reality, there are now tens of thousands of Social Media resources to plumb for branding and promoting opportunities.
Then there is the future, oops, I mean the future, oops, I mean the future. My point is that the future is here and it is a very dynamic place. Even my thoughts of what is to come to the “mainstream” information channels changes every time I see a new product deployed. Currently technology is the only limit to how companies will marketing via Social Media but the day is coming where I believe we will see a massive surge in just how powerful Social Media marketing will be.
To me that day is going to happen when the potential of net connectivity meets the day the wireless home is in full play. Some of us are already fully wireless in our homes and might have a vision, some of us are probably wondering just what I am talking about. So here I will take one very narrow path down a lane that is already being exploited by those marketing via Social Media marketing. That existing exploitation is via “Smart Phones”. Smart phones have been a boon to social media because the typical user of a “smart phone” is a consumer with a high desire to spend their money, young, female and upwardly mobile. There is a monster in the forest waiting to break out and that is going to take Social Media marketing to a level unseen overnight and that is when we get smart(er) televisions.
As it is now, even low end LCD televisions by major manufacturers are Internet ready in that many now have Ethernet connection capacity via cable or wireless. Even if you are not yet participating in this century and are holding on to your old CRT (I have a few of those myself), there are devices such as the Asus O!Play, Western Digital HD Live and Iomega ScreenPlay that will allow you to connect almost any television with inputs to either your computer or directly to the Internet. Other companies either have products available or are bringing them to shelves near you in time for the holiday shopping season. What started a few years ago as a way to feed specific channels of content by YouTube, Yahoo and Google now has to send you darn near everything online from current network content, archived shows t[o the Internet’s ugly stepchild, porn. Someway, somehow you can actually get any content to your television in a wireless fashion, just as if you were sitting in front of your four computer monitors. Okay, not everyone has four computer monitors, (but they do add up to one small LCD.) Smart televisions will be delivering content in a different way, but you can see some samples of how I think it will be used in cable now.
Take a quick stroll down what will be memory lane. Imagine you are watching television next year and someone “friends” you on Facebook or you have opted to be “tweeted” too. I imagine that your television will have a configurable area much like what you see on CNN, ESPN and now every “normal” station that you can designate to post updates happening in your Social Media communities. If you are let’s say, a friend of the local Mexican restaurant, a band, politician or retail establishment, you can have those messages, requests, tweets or announcements scroll across your television and that area will be linkable! So you were wondering what use split screens were good for? Well now you can click on your message while watching the Sunday game, go to an online asset that delivered the message and participate. Maybe you will order a pizza for the guys watching the game, place an order for a set of shoes you have been waiting for go on sale or be first in “line” to order tickets to that concert that was just announced. Some of us can do that now, but for it to really be a powerful tool, we will need smarter televisions and I venture to say that if you go to CES this January, you will see them showing off all their new ways to spread the gospel of marketing via Social Media and the living room television.
I was dreaming of my perfect bed and breakfast “retreat” for those needing to get away but needing to stay connected. I think that both are compatible given that anyone can carry the world in their pocket via a smart or in some cases, semi-smart phone. Every room would have a television with a remote that resembled your Smartphone. Have you seen a high-end multi-media remote lately? These remotes will be channel changing, keyboards with a thumb “trackball” that will allow you two options, “opt-in” formerly known as “Power On” and “opt-out” formerly known as “Off”. In my “retreat”, you could come in and easily configure those discretely mounted wirelessly connected Smart televisions to your Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Yahoo IM, AOL, Skype and whatever other channel you need to monitor. There will probably be an app on your smart phone that will Bluetooth the information to the televisions in one broad sweep. If your mother wants to check on how you are doing while “resting” up on the coast, your phone or the television apps will push her message to the biggest screen closest to you. While you are having a little face to face time, if the local grocery store gets your favorite prawns in fresh, I will get a message on the screen closest to me. You will be happy chatting with your mother while as you search YouTube for the latest video leak of a performance and I will be happy to acquire those prawns for dinner.
Of course the mainstream use will be in our homes, offices and places of business. Let us not forget our cars as well. Wireless cars with screens that safely deliver content are here now and you know if they can make a smart phone that will allow you to walk, talk and surf, a smart car that will allow you (and your teen) to drive, talk, text and surf at the same time is around (and sometimes on) the corner. It will just be a smaller version of a smart television in your dash.
All this technology sounds scary, but it does offer us part of the way out of this economic doldrums we are expected to be in for some time if we can invest here first. Not only can this technology enhance local businesses, but it can drive a demand for a smarter, more connected coast to coast community. It also demands that all aspects of small business become early adopters if only to experiment with how to apply social media to their market, niche, company or community. This is really where we have an opportunity to innovate how we communicate with those we want to do business with in a way they will appreciate. There are several risks in ignoring this. The first I think is that if companies go passive and just wait to see what is working for their competitors or the big companies, they risk watching a grassroots marketing opportunity get channeled in a way that will exclude them through marginalization. In other words, if you want until the choices for your company seem to be something you find on a menu, you will have to fit your marketing to someone else’s experience. The ways to interact will be decided by the big players when now there is a chance to have all players being part of the decision process.
I think a quote attributed to Eldridge Clever and first heard at the 1968 Presidential Convention ““What we’re saying today is that you’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem”, should be a motivational statement about the future of Social Media marketing today and hopefully not hindsight. Small companies, whether it is the local restaurant, flower shop, drugstore or bar can create channels today that will influence how the channels will be delivered tomorrow f they participate in volume. If small business is truly the trend setter when it comes to economic prosperity, small companies need to be setting trends in social media. If small companies sit down and wait till they can decide which ala-technological-cart solution will best suit them, they will have lost an opportunity to create unique ways to connect with their unique existing and prospective clients.
It isn’t that hard to start. First bookmark this site now. Then go to your favorite on-line email host such as Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail and create a new email account if you don’t already have one. This email account needs to be independent of your domain for a lot of reasons I will be glad to discuss later. Then wander over to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube and brand place for your business. The next step is to add icons that lead to these places to your self-hosted unique domain named website. If you don’t have one, get one. It is all about having assets in place that you can develop and it just isn’t that time consuming or expensive to start. Give up one night out of dinner, one golf game, one 24 pack of beer, eat beans instead of meat once, any of those will fund the actions I just suggested if you take these first steps on in house. In regards to your unique domain name, even if all you do is use a create a page at your new domain name that has a description of your business, where it is located and those social media icons linking to your new Social Media assets, you are on the right track.
If you have kids, you also have a staff and a reason to justify that allowance they may be asking for as well. They love to be early adopters!