Consumers know….. Companies don’t!

blogging1Two in every five Aussies on the net posted a commentt about a brand in the last year!

More than 86% of the same people read comments about brands!

More that  6.5Million Australians now belong to at least one online Social Network!

All of this comes from very recent Nielsen Online research into consumer generated media in Australia.

So if the consumer is into it why don’t the companies/brands get it …. yet?

After all this is word of mouth advertising and most people say that’s the best form and certainly most say its the form they trust most. So its cvertainly time for companies to be at least listened while they plan to become actively involved.

Its not that hard to make a video and post it on YouTube…. 57% of consumer said they watched online videos to help them make purchasing decisions.

Facebook usage up from 37% to 69% in the last year…. YouTube up to 75% from 64% a year ago…. so consumers are moving ….  

Whats more the research most consumers want companies to find new ways to interact with them.

So Social  Media is not only popular but trusted by consumers and for companies/brands its a communication medium that is easy to access and cheap to leverage.

So why dont they get it why are most ignoring it and some going so far as to ban their staff accessing in the office.

Is it just change … is that many of the decison makers see them as too old  to bother with this “fad”?

I was staggered this week when a senior lecturer in Marketing at a prominent University told me he gets lots of invites to join LinkedIn, Twitter etc …. but he doesnt have the tme!!!

What he cleary means is he doest know – why, what and probably how.  

When I suggested to a CEO of a prospective client he should be blogging he told me …”I only have time for insights and not communicating with people”

My answer is then you are a perfect blogger write your insights in blogs and let the world do the communicating for you.

Its About the Discussion not Dialogue

For some time I have been trying to convince a number of my clients to not only set up their own blog but to participate in relevant industry blogs.  But they have concerns about being open about what they do and allowing competition to know too much … and also give credence to the debate about their products and those of the competition.

But I believe some info that I have gleaned from a recent column by Jeremy Wolf, VP Text 100 Asia-Pacific in B+T mag www.bandt.com.au has provided me with some good ammo to continue to nudge my clients.

“Historically advertising has been described as a monologue, the best public relations as a Dialogue and now social media must, of course, be a discussion.”

He also provides a great analogy to position social media in a context that many in sales and marketing will understand.

Social Networking Interactions are similar to those that occur at a trade show. “while you cant control everything that is said and on behalf of your company, most of the time employees manage to give effective product demos to groups of customers and prospects, interact with snooping competitors and chat with passing journalists. At times it may be chaotic, but its organic and it works.”

But what doesn’t work in Social Networking as a half hearted approach. Without open two-way conversations it is not possible to influence discussions while building credibility and add value.  No matter what people may say it is important to acknowledge what they say and give them the opportunity to consider your point of view.

Blogs and social networks give us all the opportunity to add our voice to any relevant discussion and in doing so become an influencer by adding real value.

This discussion can now often inspire news stories in the traditional media and as such further develop an accurate picture of the company, products, people and directions.

It is an opportunity too good to miss out on…. I think.

But its not easy as Jeff Guin says of his experiences having recently taken a part time role as adjunct instructor in the capstone “campaigns” course for PR majors at the local university

In PR, we’ve always had to be used to the idea of understanding highly technical concepts in widely disparate fields, then plan a strategy to communicate the information to a dozen audiences via two hundred “target” media outlets. Ah, those sweet simple days.

In the wake of Web 2.0, PR folks are the new working mothers of the world. We nurture our audiences in our social media cribs (aka networks) and instill in them the confidence to join the conversation hoping for some as-yet-undetermined benefit when they “grow up.” Oh yeah, we still have to fill our traditional roles if we want to keep Big Daddy happy in the boardroom.

Oh so true!!