The 6,224-Foot View Of Social Media

Five big-picture ideas about social media came into focus at the Social Media Insider Summit in Lake Tahoe.

Sometimes you just have to get high to achieve clarity. Or at least that’s what I told myself as I ascended 6,224 feet to Lake Tahoe for the Social Media Insider Summit last week. And, true to form, this elevated event not only met my lofty expectations, but it also revealed five somewhat surprising, if not pristine, truths about social media.

1. One tree does not a forest make.
As the practice of social media evolves from novelty to mainstay, it becomes clearer and clearer that the big success stories rarely happen in isolation. In her keynote case study Natalie Malaszenko, Director of Worldwide Digital Marketing & Social Media at HP, provided a detailed look at the successful “entirely through social media” launch of the ENVY14 Spectre Ultrabook.

And though it did not include any “above-the-line advertising,” a huge party in Las Vegas during CES, complete with a performance by the famous DJ Tiesto, set the stage for the world’s first live streaming concert on Twitter. Without the party, two successful teaser videos and a huge PR machine behind it all, this “social” success story would have been like a solitary tree falling in an otherwise deserted forest.

2. Social TV apps may not prevent forest fires, but they could breathe new life into live TV.
With over 40% of Americans now time-shifting their TV viewing, TV networks are looking for any opportunity to reverse this trend since Nielsen ratings only include viewings that happen within 3 days of airing, and lower ratings means lower ad revenues. One solution to this raging fire just might be a deluge of social apps.

Kristin Hersant, VP of Marketing at Echo, a firm that has developed several social TV apps for AMC, WE tv and IFC, explained that “it can be challenging to drive live show viewership; however for Breaking Bad, specifically, AMC saw a 14% increase in ratings.” And while Hersant concedes that their social TV app can’t take all the credit, “the general sentiment is that it’s working very well for them.”

3. Despite its falling stock, Facebook remains the sequoia of social.
Sure, Zuckerberg & Co. have been battered in the press as their stock tumbled shortly after their clearly over-hyped IPO, but it would be a gargantuan mistake to write off Facebook just yet. With people spending upwards of 6.7 billion hours a month on THE social network, Facebook is the largest entertainment resource in the world, siphoning off droves of traffic from other major sites.

As such, few marketers can afford not to have a strong presence on Facebook and be looking to engage their biggest fans with interesting content and valuable offers that, in turn, can drive site traffic and, yes, even sales. And with Facebook’s updated iPhone and Android apps, it looks like marketers will be able to engage millions of mobile users with bigger and better sponsored stories.

4. If you can't see the forest for the trees, just calculate value-per-like.
Mention “value-per-like” to most social media pros and they will simply roll their eyes with derision. Long the Quixotic pursuit of data geeks, the notion that you could actually put a business value on a mere click of the Like button was considered too simplistic a metric or too complicated to calculate with meaningful precision. Well, that forest of wishful thinkers is now gaining some impressive fans.

LoudDoor, a data analytics company, believes that knowing “value-per-like” is a game-changer for social media proponents and will clear the path for bigger ROI-driven budgets in the near future. “It’s simply a matter of getting your hands on the right data,” explains Jeff French, chairman of LoudDoor, which just happens to have a database of over 50 million Facebook users at its fingertips.

5. It’s way too early to yell “timber” for Google+.
While Google+ boasts 170 million registered users, chances are that unless you are a 28-year-old tech geek, your activity on the lone pine of social networks is minimal. In fact, RJ Metrics reports that 30% of users who make a public post never make a second one, and the average post gets less than one +1 and fewer than one reply. With numbers like these, it’s almost surprising Google hasn’t just chopped the whole thing down.

But before you grab your chainsaw, consider the rumor that Google+ and +1 will merge, creating a search driver that marketers simply can’t ignore. In simplistic terms, this would mean that a post on Google+ could result in better SEO performance. Add on the fact that marketers can finally stake out vanity/branded URLs (like they’ve enjoyed on Facebook for years), and brands may finally have to plant themselves firmly in Google+ (or should we call it Google+1?).

--Visit TheDrewBlog.com to read some of the follow up interviews I conducted while I was at this alpine paradise.

Photo by Drew Neisser (taken on an iPhone)

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