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Social, the Final Frontier

Sun behind Earth


13.7.2012

Social, the final frontier. These are the engagement strategies’ of the 21st century companies of the world. The mission: to explore strange new media platforms, to engage in a new way and interact with new civilisations online, to boldly go where no man has gone before…

Space/Social… in a way so similar when looking at them. Vast to the point of unimaginable. Unexplored. Mankind is only just coming to terms with the scope of magnitude with which it reaches. We haven’t even touched the surface yet…

Having lived in the UK for the last 5 years, I came to Australia for warmer climates and a different career path. What I didn’t expect was an industry still living in a pre-GFC-like state where print was king and online relatively still in its infantile stage. Large global organisations have yet to pick up the importance of social media and how much of an impact it has on a modern day campaign.

A recent survey conducted by the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association survey found that 62% of internet users have a presence on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Facebook dominates the social media space, capturing 97% of social networking users. So why still do Australian companies still refrain from launching themselves into social exploration? I think a combination of making the first move and subsequently making mistakes that will be detrimental to their brand are dominating factors. Many would rather let their competitors go first and watch what happens before entering the fray. Added to this is a reticence to either spend money or accept the need to learn about the challenges. With industry experts like Oracle recently buying social media monitoring company Virtue, many are just beginning to comprehend the possibilities of engaging with their audience to build and grow their brand. This also may indicate the Australian mentality, which has been under a decades-long shade of an oligopoly that has stunted innovative development and creative competitiveness. 

In an age where the world is changing at such a rapid pace, it is overwhelming for businesses to stay ahead of the curve. But we are still in the early days of what will soon to be the Social Era. What companies need to be doing now is researching their core audiences’ interaction with these platforms. Now is the time to unlock the key insights into their behaviour and relationships with this ever evolving online world.

Companies should identify how they want to engage with these people, what they want to say, how they want to say it and where. Just having a Facebook or LinkedIn page is not enough. People want to know who the company is, how they work, what they do above and beyond just a service or a product. They want to know and engage with their brand. In a world where there are dozens of companies in competition, organisations need to be on the ball about where they are in comparison to the rest of the market. With the likes of Skype facilitating conference calls online, the globe has shrunk to the touch of a button and the click of a mouse. Australian companies need to pick up the pace to stand a chance of competing with the rest of the world.

Pre-written, approved Facebook updates and tweets are necessary to maintain a flow of information, but there should be more emphasis placed on actual back and forth, a sincere conversation. It needs to be driven by the need for active engagement and less reactive scripts. Companies are so worried about saying or doing the wrong things that they're missing out on the best part of social media, the part where they learn the most about their customers and how they feel about their organisation. A place where people can use those feelings to spread the word, retweet, share, email and talk about the brand. These are the things they will learn from being actively involved in the conversation, and they wont get this insight unless they are there to talk to the people.

So in an age where science and technology is taking over from tradition and complacency, where the realm of the unknown is fast approaching breaking point and early adopters are making names for themselves at fairly conservative costs, the risk for businesses not to get involved far outweighs the risk of taking the leap.

Written by Danielle Mountford.

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