Here in Europe, the words ‘social media’ were barely audible in 2008 when I was writing my book, Mastering Web 2.0. At the beginning of 2009, the talk about social media had increased to a hushed whisper. Now, only 9 months later, even some of my most die-hard clients who had sworn 18 months ago they would never be caught dead writing a blog, are now calling me in a panic, looking for advice on how best to integrate social media into their brand strategy. And they are worried (as they should be) that if they don’t do this, they will be at a distinct competitive disadvantage.
Yes, times are changing. As they well should. Because if companies’ interest in social media has been a long time coming, the same is certainly not true for their customers. Hundreds of thousands-millions- of Europeans engage in social networking sites, twitter, write blogs and bookmark on a daily basis.
Oddly, many companies have dismissed the social media craze as just another technology. In other words, something that is somehow optional. Something we can take or leave. And that is completely optional as they seek to craft a robust brand strategy. But this is so very wrong. Social media is NOT technology-led. It is led by customers who are looking for a voice, who are tired of being plied with opinions from the so-called experts and who are much more interested in hearing what their next door neighbor has to say about a product, a company, a brand or issue.
Yes, the social media revolution has been led by PEOPLE , not by technology. And if this is a movement generated and sustained by our customers, shouldn’t we all be where they are? Shouldn’t our brand strategy embrace a medium which our customers deem important to their lives? European companies are just now waking up to the idea that the answer to this question is a most very definite Yes.