Power to the People: A New Mantra of Business by briansolis


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									Power to the People: A New Mantra of Business
By Brian Solis, industry-leading blogger at BrianSolis.com and principal of research firm
Altimeter Group, Author of the highly acclaimed book on social business Engage!

Exhibitor Magazine ran a feature story on new media and how it is changing the world of event
marketing. In our discussion, we expanded the scope beyond events to discuss how people were
forcing the evolution of business overall. The result is something quite profound. People are now
taking control of their online experiences driven by how they connect and to whom in the social web.
This shift changes how people find, share and discover information within their networks of
relevance and also reshapes the decision making process while influencing new behavior and

People are now at the center of their very own egosystem and as a result, businesses are forced to
evolve market strategies from a singular focus of creation to a holistic approach of co-creation.

The story begins here…

The 3F’s

Fans, friends, followers — these three relatively pedestrian words have recently gained new
meaning and power amid the social-media revolution. A revolution that, for all intents and purposes,
has been perpetuated by Facebook and Twitter. The “three Fs,” as author and sociologist Brian Solis
calls them, are the new return on investment for marketers. However, measuring social-media return
isn’t as simple as adding up your fans, friends, and followers and calling it a day. Rather, it’s about
defining what, exactly, those three Fs mean to your company and, ultimately, your exhibit and event

In his book, “Engage! The Complete Guide for Brands and Business to Build, Cultivate, and
Measure Success in the New Web,” Solis explains how to attach relevant value to the 3F’s, and why
they’re important players in the movement he has dubbed “the socialization of business.”

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
EXHIBITOR Magazine: What do you think accounts for the mystique surrounding social-media
marketing? That is, why are companies struggling with how to set goals for their social-media efforts,
and measure the results?

Brian Solis: Social media is a tool we — people, attendees, individuals — brought to the table, and
something we deemed worthy of our time, focus, and attention. That interest created a groundswell
and forced a bottom-up revolution. Companies are struggling with how to set goals and measure
results because there aren’t established processes, methodologies, best practices, or even case
studies to demonstrate how social media influences marketing. So, while companies often recognize
the opportunities to incorporate social media into their marketing efforts, very few have the answers
as to why it works.

Compare that to conventional marketing and sales, which are established and known quantities. The
tactics, strategies, and metrics associated with them have been proven successful and thus
introduced to us, and have been something we’ve had to master versus something we had a hand in
creating. The mistake marketers make is that they try to bring traditional tactics (how to reach an
audience, target a demographic, etc.) to social media. It simply won’t work because there isn’t “one”
audience to target anymore. It’s been replaced by a series of interconnected groups. Basically,
social media set out to revolutionize everything marketers were working against.

EM: How can marketers respond to this revolution?

Brian: Social media are just channels to reach people. The opportunities are as diverse as existing
and potential customers. But what’s to say those individuals want to connect with your company? As
a marketer, you have to define the basis of that connection. The mindset now is that all you have to
do is set up a Twitter account, set up a Facebook account, and set up a blog, and you’ll magically
reach that one audience. In reality, that’s not how it works.

As consumers, you and I are setting up our own information networks. How we learn and what we
share with others is governed by those with whom we connect via social media. Before, people used
to visit websites to find information, but now people expect information to come to them. This is the
foundation of the social-media revolution. You have to ask yourself, “Who am I trying to reach
(attendees, partners, speakers)? Where are they going for information (Facebook, Twitter, blogs)?”
and then design your marketing programs around reaching each one of those segments.

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
EM: There is a section in your book that talks about “connecting from the heart.” Why is it important
to establish an emotional connection with a social-media audience?

Brian: The social-media landscape is essentially personal. Look at what people are sharing and
responding to on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. If you looked at a word cloud based on what people
are posting, you would find that the most often used words always have something to do with
emotion. That’s because social media is emotional, and it’s all about the individual. When you
introduce classic marketing and sales to a platform that’s personal and emotional, you’re going to be
met with resistance, hate, anger, and resentment because you represent everything they’re moving
away from. This is when research and empathy are important.

As a marketer, you have to spend time learning the emotional touchpoints of your audience. That’s
how you, as a marketer, enter the discussion. Spark a series of conversations and introduce
solutions in a social network that’s relevant to your audience, and you’ll earn a place within that
community. And, ultimately, you can turn emotional aspects into tangible metrics and tactics. The
practice of social media is an earned privilege. Your relationships and stature in that community are
all a reflection of what you’ve earned through participation.

EM: How do you leverage relationships to reach your marketing goals?

Brian: Conversations take place with or without you. Facebook and Twitter just allow you to peer into
conversations to see what people are thinking and saying. What you see is people talking. However,
what do we, as marketers, do with this information? We sit around our conference table and come
up with messages and strategies to try and convince our audience that we are what we say we are.
Eventually, we start to detach from what we’re trying to do, and end up alienating that audience
because we’re obsessed with ourselves and what we want to say, rather than thinking about what
our audience wants (and needs) to hear.

Social media is just that — social. So how do you take what your company offers and present it to
your audience via social media? Start with your mission statement. Ask yourself “Would I tweet it?
Would I see that and retweet that?” The answer is probably “No.” Social media are massive
networks rich with common experiences. Tie your mission statement to that idea, and you have a
much higher probability of earning attention. After all, that’s what it’s all about — getting attention.

EM: How can companies make the transition from simply using social media to get attention, to
actually benefiting from social media?

Brian: What companies are doing now is just what they think they’re supposed to be doing. It’s
completely reactionary. You have to understand what you’re trying to accomplish before you can
figure out how to benefit from social media. What is your mission? What is your higher purpose? It
probably has something to do with creating better customer and attendee experiences through your
events and exhibits, and ultimately increasing sales.

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
ROI is elusive when you look at it as the number of engagements or Twitter followers. What’s the
return on those fans, friends, and followers? Nothing, because they don’t carry substantive value.
You have to focus on the return you want, which is likely increased sales. So think about how you
can use social media to increase sales, and work backwards.

For example, let’s say you launch a Facebook campaign to get 1,000 “likes” for your brand page.
You make your goal of 1,000, but what’s to say those people will attend your event or even visit the
page at a later date? You have to offer them something of value in order to create a social consumer.
That social consumer might then provide feedback on the event and even influence peers to attend.
Figure out what your audience wants, and give it to them — over and over. You have to give them a
reason to both connect and come back.

EM: Are there any secrets to achieving social-media success?

Brian: After working in social engagement since the mid-90s, one thing I’ve realized is that I have
yet to create a template. People are different, and you have to consider what influences them and
what motivates them. Social media represents the socialization of business — it’s of the people and
for the people. So you have to engage those people in order to build a larger, social-minded
community for your company, which means you have to learn a new way to communicate.

Instead of casting a fishing line to lure people in, you have to go to people and actually steer their
actions and experiences. This has its inherent disadvantages because you’re not as in control as
you like, but at the same time, not everyone is a leader. Some people are still looking for insight and
direction, and marketers now have a platform to provide that.

But ultimately, it comes back to the three Fs — that’s where the future of social media lies. Fans,
friends, and followers are becoming intensely influential, and are, in essence, becoming the brand,
which is why earning a place in the social-networking community is imperative for today’s marketers.


With chapters such as Defining the Rules of Engagement, The Social Marketing Compass, and
Unveiling the New Influencers, Engage! The Complete Guide for Brands and Business to Build,
Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web serves as a veritable social-media textbook for
marketers and business strategists. That’s because it goes beyond simply stating the case for social
media, it outlines how professionals should be using it to create communities, promote brand
awareness, and harness the power of a new crop of influencers. And that’s just the beginning.
Additional chapters dissect everything from planning to vendor-relationship management and social-
media metrics — all within the framework of explaining what, exactly, all this information means to

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is
globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published
authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and
influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and
culture. His current book, Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for
businesses to build and measure success in the social web.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook
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(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis

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