New Media and the Future of Business

I was recently interviewed by Israel's BuzzInNews about new media and business. The conversation was translated from Hebrew to English, to share with you here as well. The discussion explores the evolution of social media in business from attention economics to B2B to ROI and concluding with a discussion of the brewing cold war between Google and Facebook.

As an expert on New Media, could you provide an insight to what the difference is between New Media and Social Media? Do you think "New Media" is still new, or perhaps we should replace the word "New" with another word? If so, what word would that be and why?

That's the thing about new media, it's always new ... Social media is just a chapter in the ongoing story of new media. For example, check-ins, augmented reality, swipes that trigger events, are all forms of new media. Social emerged as a category to document the rise of interactive platforms, channels and services that gave way to the democratization of information.

In your new book "Engage!" you talk about Attention Economics, and deem attention as a scarce and finite resource. What would you recommend Social Media agencies do in order to capture the attention of people's attention?

Competing for attention is the problem with marketing and media and real-time media only heightens the problem. Competing for attention is similar to competing for the moment. By moving and reacting, we're not investing in the legacy of the brand nor its presence within new digital societies. It's real-time vs. right time + right place. Attention is only thinning for the near future and the only way to capture attention is through scale. Rather than 1 to 1 engagement, we need to focus on the opportunities where 1 + 1 = many. Recognition and empowerment are the secrets to scale. Giving reasons for people to not only consume and interact with the brand or related content, but share it is how we can earn recurring attention. The future of marketing lies in shared experiences.

Companies are still reluctant to utilizing Facebook/SM for B2B activity. Many of them question the added value to revenue. What would your advice be?

My advice is true for social media and any other aspect in business. We need to first research where desirable individuals are interacting and who it is that influences them. Then we work backwards from there. In many B2B cases, I've found that Facebook is not where resources should focus, instead blogs, LinkedIn, and discussion groups have proved more productive and lucrative. Everything begins with gathering intelligence.

How can success in a social media program be measured?

We often hear the debate about ROI, yet so very few people are qualified to address it in a way that appeases executives. It's impossible to measure the ROI for something if we haven't first established the R (Return) or the I (Investment). Even though social media is inexpensive or free or relatively inexpensive to host a presence, time and resources still maintain fixed costs. And, if we enhance our presences or apply greater resources, the investment goes up exponentially. The true challenge here however, is the need to first design outcomes into the equation. What do we want to accomplish? What's the return we seek? Are we trying to sell, change, drive, cause, or inspire something specific? Are we reducing customer problems? Are we trying to shift sentiment to a more positive state that increases referrals as a result? While parts of social media are purely designed for branding purposes, like direct marketing and online advertising, programs can also be designed to trigger desirable outcomes. How are you converting attention and clicks to a measurable return? Find the answer and then revisit the ROI discussion.

Google vs. Facebook—what search will prevail? Do you think Facebook's search will take off? Has Google got anything to fear? Will Google go social?

The media is currently focusing on search vs. social. I believe this is actually less about Google vs. Facebook and more about the traditional online consumer vs. the emerging role of the connected or social consumer. This comes down to behavior and the support systems connected consumers are building around themselves. How they find information, share experiences, and make decisions are different. Gigya published a report last year that demonstrates how the two groups approach search. Combining this with my research, traditional consumers and also connected consumers take to Google to search. When it comes down to making a decision however, social consumers take to their feeds to see who's talking about the topic and to also seek input from their social graph. As social search evolves within Facebook for example, social consumers may forgo Google to stay within the realm of their network. When initiating a search, results qualified by peers take a lot of the extra work out of the process.

If we look at Google's approach to search, well, it's integrating social media and the social graph into search results. But Google is losing its appeal as a destination amongst the connected consumer. Therefore Google is exploring social and the much rumored Google Me, to weave a fabric that connects people and information through social graphs and also the world wide web. Competing for the social consumer will reveal a winner. More here: The Next Cold War: Google vs. Facebook.

Reprinted from BrianSolis.com

Brian Solis is the author of Engage and is one of most provocative thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis's research and ideas have influenced the effects of emerging media on the convergence of marketing, communications, and publishing. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSolis, YouTube, or at BrianSolis.com.

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  • Marc LeVine

    This will someday be viewed as a classic interview moment w/ Brian Solis.

    There are so many great insights and quotable quotes here such as: "That's the thing about new media, it's always new…Social media is just a chapter in the ongoing story of new media" and "I've found that Facebook is not where resources should focus, instead blogs, LinkedIn, and discussion groups have proved more productive and lucrative."

    Particularly of interest to me is your fine recommendation regarding ROI. A thoughtful and pragmatic approach DOES seem to be the best one to take. As they said in the X-Files, "the answers are out there." If businesses do a little more proactive study and somewhat reduce their reactive criticisms, more light will be shed on just how important Social Media is to their marketing efforts.

    Marc LeVine
    Director of Social Media
    RiaEnjolie, Inc
    www.RiaEnjolie.com
    Follow on Twitter @RiaEnjolie