In this week's Business Monday you'll find my story about how businesses are diving into social media to tap into it's powerful marketing potential -- and the challenges that come with getting into Facebook and Twitter.
I wasn't able to work in every interview I had into the story. Truth is, I could fill the whole section with stories on social media if my editors let me. So I want to share with you some great nuggets of knowledge that didn't make print:
BGT Partners is an interactive agency in Miami with clients that include Office Depot, Tupperware and Carnival Cruise Lines. David Clarke, founder and managing partner, spoke with me about the changes he's seen in social media marketing over the years.
"The biggest difference we're seeing is that the strategy is a lot more long term. You can't just look at this as a marketing initiative. This is a business initiative," Clarke said.
In short, he said a more broader approach to social media marketing is being taken. Perhaps the tools are used to manage an event, target a specific geography of users, or for recruiting. And then there's the issue of openness. He says tech-related companies have been on social networks for some time now, but it's only been the last year or so where the larger corporations have joined public networks.
And the challenges? It's not really the money since these are free services to join. It's a resource issue -- which is something I've heard from just about every business I've spoken with. To do social networking correctly and effectively, there needs to be someone manning the accounts every day, and that company needs to also have the resources to provide quality information, he said. And sometimes that means hiring a marketing or public relations agency to help.
Remember when a CEO blog was big stuff? Well like everything in social media, it's learning from trial and error. Clarke said a CEO blog doesn't necessarily drive traffic. Andrea Fishman, BGT's vice president and global strategist, said they've noticed clients get more traffic when the product manager answers concerns in a forum or blog.
"All of a sudden you're getting real access at a level you haven't had in the past," Fishman said. "You're getting a lot more tactical managers that have more actionable information, and that resonates with the audience."
So what's next? Should every business board the Twitter train? No, but for many it has been a great customer service and brand fan networking tool. It really depends on who you are trying to reach.
And of course the Twitter of today might not be the same Twitter we use in a few years. Arad Usha, BGT's lead strategist, sees a convergence of social media, traditional online shopping and traditional online search all coming together into one really efficient tool.
"Information, products and people will all be presented to you simultaneously," Usha said. "You're going to see who has blogged about it, how its been reviewed. You're going to start to see the two experiences really start to merge."
Later today I'll post about my interview with Christine Barney, CEO of RBB Public Relations, whose firm represents FPL, Bank Atlantic, American Airlines Arena, among many others. All of RBB's clients have gotten engaged in social media in some form because -- as Barney puts it -- "If you're not on social networking sites, you're not on the Internet."