Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Solutionz Signs of Success: SOCIAL PROOF

Social proof
If you do a Google™ search on this term, you will find that it is not a new term. In fact, it was used as early as 1951 in a Los Angeles Times article on Teen Etiquette, talking about "following sporting rules with cheerful courtesy", which would yield social proof that you were indeed "growing up".

In the current vernacular, the term "social proof" has to do with the results yielded by an individual or a company's involvement in word of mouth, or social media. Put more simply, demonstrating success.

My contention is that most companies are not yet sure what proof they are looking for to justify the time spent on social media and indeed have not yet reached a stage where they themselves have "following the rules with cheerful courtesy" demonstrating that they are indeed "grown up" in their use of the range of new tools, which include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Digg, Google Friend Connect, FriendFeed (just acquired by Facebook), etc.

It reminds me of when the term "new media" became vogue in the early 90s. The Internet was still in its infancy and the term actually related to the use of "multi-media" and new platforms such as Compuserve and Prodigy to reach consumers. The proliferation of PC use in the home was what sparked the growth of this media. Eventually of course, new becomes old and we have to come up with new terms.

New media was focused on companies reaching their audiences, largely by using older mass media techniques based on traditional advertising. In traditional advertising, companies looked for return on investment, with a pure ratio between spend and sales. Ad agencies guided the way, expert in all things "new media".

Word of Mouth media isn't so simple. It involves not only companies talking to consumers, but consumers talking to consumers and consumers talking about companies and their products and services. The one thing that Word of Mouth media has in common with its predecessor is that it is a major factor in brand building, but in its infancy and in the hands of those that are not yet "grown up", it may not have a direct correllation to driving sales. So the best measure at the outset is what I have dubbed "ROIT™" or return or investment of time.

As you look at the relationship ladder that must be climbed in word of mouth media (see other posts on this blog), most companies are still on the bottom rungs (SPAM and NOISE), which relate to more traditional mass media reach - quantity over quality. Getting to the top rungs (REFERRAL AND REPUTATION/BRAND) require a much stronger focus on delivering relevant information and in fact, forming relationship.

Those are the tenets of strategy that must be deployed as you look at using social media and word of mouth as tools in achieving your goals and getting yourself or your company on the social graph. Digg ThisAdd To Add To Furl Add To Reddit Fav This With Technorati Add To Yahoo MyWeb Add To Newsvine Add To Google Bookmarks Add To Bloglines Add To Ask Add To Windows Live Add To Slashdot Stumble This

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