The year 2010 is coming to a close and man what a year! My time at ZedX came to an end as I, along with 3 dear friends of mine, started a new company, IntelliCrop. We are currently down in the development weeds and I am grateful for the talents of Travis Pettijohn and David Faivre. Their dedication to quality in both the architecture and code cutting are second to none. And our managing partner, Steve Faivre is a true visionary. The way he speaks about innovative product ideas as if they "are" is inspiring! So, to the team at IntelliCrop, my hearfelt thanks for allowing me to be a part. I am itching to get to market so I can test some of my theories on leveraging new media in our marketing activities. The sooner we get out there, the sooner I can make the mistakes required to be a successful company! But I digress...
I have been heavily involved in the social landscape for two years now and the first thing that comes to mind is WOW. I have learned a great deal. Here are my top five:
This particular concept is certainly difficult to measure in the social world. Information is disseminated so rapidly across many different places that it is difficult to actually measure it. It was hard enough to measure how influential someone was in the "real" world, much less the virtual world. The excellent work by Brian Solis (@briansolis) is THE source to gain an understanding on the topic of influence. I frequent his site often to gain insight and I suggest you do the same if you are serious about integrating new media into your marketing, PR, and sales activities. I expect influence to continue to be a much talked about topic in 2011. And rest assured it is something I will continue to learn more about and use as I put together marketing plans for our new business.
I was born and raised in Tin Top, a small Texas town. I now reside in Sycamore, another small town in Northern Illinois. The concept of community is important in both locales. With the ubiquity of the Internet and the rise of social media, community is no longer constrained by geography. There are individuals and companies working diligently to build communities all across the web. These virtual communities are just as strong, if not stronger, than the geographically constrained communities. A marvelous example of a virtual community is The Agchat Foundation. This community, of which I am a part, is composed of individuals and organizations involved in the business of agriculture. We all share a common bond whose strength is derived from the passion the members have about all facets of agriculture. I have learned that, as the famous Roald Dahl stated in his awesome book James and The Giant Peach., "Marvelous things will happen." when people believe in what they are doing and work together to build a strong community.
It's All About The Customer
We in the business of marketing have heard this mantra for decades, and it rings as true today as it did "back then." But now it is more important than ever to do more than just repeat the mantra in board meetings. We must give up control, which is a hard thing to do because in the social world, we never really had control anyway. Our customers did and still do. They have control of our brand and the messaging. So make your tweets, facebook posts, and blogs about the customer rather than your company. Be genuine in your messages and really, I mean really, provide content that is customer focused. As marketers, we have access to the largest focus group in history! Take advantage if this wonderful situation. Let your customers know you are all about what they want, need and desire. Be giving in your knowledge and accepting of criticism. Trust me, they will take it from there.
Remember, It's A Conversation
How may times have you thought "Man I really wish I could just sit down and talk to him/her?" I know I have on numerous occasions. Social Media has taught me that it is easier to "sit down" and have that conversation. I have always been the type to interact. I really love networking and, most of all, I love talking with my prospects and customers. I yearn to hear from them and truly want to help make them be as successful as possible. It almost borders on the selfish as I get a great feeling when I make my customers life easier. And the only way that can happen is by having a conversation. A conversation, by definition requires at least two people/groups so if you do automate some of your social media efforts, please remember that there is NO SUCH thing as autopilot. By all means, automate where it makes sense - (side note - I automate some of my messages and accounts like @AgBlogFeed and @WineBlogFeed), but always remember to inject yourself into the equation. Engage people, ask questions, learn from them, and share your knowledge.
The Clock is Ticking
If this past year has taught me anything about the social media landscape it is this: The clock is ticking. The time to get involved in social media is NOW. People are talking, building communities, and becoming more social. Decisions are being made. So don't get stuck in the traffic. Grab a cup of coffee and move over into the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane with the rest of us. Dive in feet first, get your hands dirty, cultivate the "social land" and watch what grows. You will be astounded.
As I move in to 2011, I will continue to cultivate the friendships I have been blessed to gain during 2010 stemming from my social media activities. Come join us, learn with us, and share with us. Here is to a fruitful 2011 folks! Go out and make if a fantastic year.