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Social Media: Time to Integrate

Intouch Team

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Many of the associates here at Intouch are fully immersed in social media. Some of us write or comment on blogs. Others use Twitter. We have a handful of message board moderators. Most of us use social networks. We have a couple of podcasters. And almost everyone has submitted, watched, or commented on a video or picture on YouTube, Hulu or Flickr.

Intouch is not alone. There are many companies full of people who engage in social media. You probably already know of at least two or three friends or colleagues who blog. Often today’s Internet users fully embrace technology, not only in their personal lives but on the job as well. They are engaged and have integrated social media into their daily schedule.

Keeping It "Real"

In our previous social media article, we discussed how social media is just a series of conversations. And in your conversations with your customers, it’s best to be genuine. By making the decision to enter social media with a genuine voice, your brand will make the leap few individuals have yet to make. And with that step, you can open up a new channel that has a wealth of opportunity.

Much like Willy Wonka opening the doors to his amazing chocolate factory, the only limit in social media marketing is your imagination — well, maybe the imaginations of your collective legal, medical and regulatory departments. Regardless of limitations, once you’ve decided to engage in social media, the next step is integration.

The Year of Change

There have been a handful of great examples of social media integration over the past year, but none of them equal the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. The campaign was a major social media marketing undertaking. All of the tactics were interconnected and easily shared with friends and family. It was an emerging media machine that included:

  • Social Networks — Along with Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn pages, there were specific groups (Women for Obama, Veterans for Obama, Obama Action Wire, etc .) set up to appeal to all walks of life and discuss issues relevant to them.
  • Blogs — Besides the official Obama Blog, numerous bloggers came out in support of Barack Obama, adding widgets and sharing links to their sites.
  • Microblogs — An official Twitter feed was followed by over 139,000 people. With the average number of followers for the top 100 twitters being just over 9,000, the campaign scored a major success in this burgeoning social media space.
  • Video & Photo Sharing — A dedicated YouTube channel and Flickr photostream housed all the official videos and images and asked supporters to submit theirs.
  • Podcasts — An iTunes video podcast kept supporters up-to-date on the latest campaign developments.
  • Wikis — With both a Wikipedia page and an unofficial Barackopedia, facts about the President’s life and career, as well as the campaign, were open for public comment.
  • WhiteHouse.gov — In keeping with the administration’s focus on timeliness, the official White House Web site and blog immediately switched over to the new version upon Obama’s inauguration.

And that’s not to mention the multiple Web sites, mobile applications, text messages and emails. This was an online onslaught of integrated messaging that changed how campaigns will be run from now on. But the strategy behind it was simple — connect to voters with a relevant message at the appropriate time via their preferred channels. And once you’ve connected with the people, give them the means to propagate the message via the same channels.

Making Social Media Work for Your Brand

This strategy can work for any brand, because it’s not about the brand — it’s about the customers and engaging them in honest conversations on their terms . This engagement can happen in many different ways. And to give you an idea of the various strategies being employed outside the Pharma industry, Leigh Householder, author of Advergirl.com, has developed the following social media engagement models:

  • Build a Community — Give people interested in your brand a place to congregate, ask questions, collect ideas and celebrate your brand.
  • Activate Ambassadors — Locate your biggest fans throughout social media and focus on their needs. Get them energized and they will energize others.
  • Listen for New Insights — Find the conversations that are already happening and pull ideas from them. Create opportunities for communities to offer their own ideas.
  • Fill the Gap — Listen to what communities are saying and give people what they need. Provide a bridge. Be the tool that people can’t live without.

Though these are all very insightful models, they may be more challenging in a highly regulated industry like Pharma. But almost all of them were employed in one way or another over the past year with varying degrees of success.

My POV

I didn’t choose the President’s campaign as an example for political reasons. It was merely an illustration of how technology has forever changed one of our collective experiences. Life has undoubtedly changed. And marketing must change with it. People are engaged in social media. And even if your company isn’t ready to take the plunge, you may want to do some exploring on your own. If for no other reason than to be ready for the day your company is ready to change.

For more information on making social media work for your brand, please contact your Intouch Solutions representative, or contact us at getintouch@intouchsol.com.

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