Boston is a very active social media city, so it was not unusual to have two events (at least) in one week to attend and learn about how people and companies are using social media.
First up from last week, a Millennial Branding Event featuring Peter Stringer, who runs social media for the Boston Celtics. First I should note that these “branding” events are no longer strictly about personal branding, a topic that can wear out its welcome quickly, but about different ways to “brand” via social media.
Foremost among Stringers’ messages was that while two-way conversations and fan participation are important elements of the Celtics’ social media presence, their primary goal is to get names in their marketing database, and, of course, butts in seats at home games.
This means not worrying as much about conversations and games on Facebook, but using both to drive fans to the Celtics’ own NBA web site for in-game interaction and other content. Does social media as marketing rather than “engagement” or “conversation” sound cynical? Not in a world of business, though in business as in everything, there had better be something worthwhile for the fans to keep them around.
The second event was a joint production of Social Media Club Boston and the Boston Social Media Breakfast, titled “Evaluating Social Technologies: From Chaos to Strategy.”
- Janet Aronica, Community Manager, oneforty (@JanetAronica)
- Zach Hofer-Shall, Analyst, Forrester Research (@znh)
- Kathy O’Reilly, Director, Social Media Relations, Monster.com (@kathyoreilly) (A Voce client)
- Ben Boardman, Marketwire & Sysomos (@benboardman5)
“Chaos” was an apt word for the title; though the panel was very well-ordered and informational, the technologies- from monitoring and analysis to publishing to “Social CRM”- represent a world in disarray.
It is clear that the social technologies market is sill in a formative phase, as different tools fit different purposes, and we are far from a “one tool-set to fit them all” nirvana.
The panelists represented many sides of the problem; from Forrester’s Hofer-Shall, who notes that market confusion and technological immaturity have prevented most companies from signing long-term contracts with vendors, going for month-to-month engagements instead as they feel around for what works.
O’Reilly (as we well know in our work with Monster.com), stressed that even a big company uses a variety of tools, rather than a single enterprise-level solution, for similar reasons. Some of these tools are the free or inexpensive kind one might think are more suited to small businesses- but if a tool does even one thing well (like a Co-Tweet, if I may be liberal in the definition of “one”), it is a candidate for adoption right now.
Aronica represented an interesting side– a curator of tools, rather than of content as we are accustomed to buzz about, at oneforty. Utilitarian communities, not to mention industry “magazines” such as Mashable, remain important in the quest to vet new tools.
Last, Boardman represented the vendor (Sysomos, in his case). The battle to stand out has been fought so far, fittingly, in the social media and PR fronts. Sysomos has produced research papers to demonstrate its prowess, while other market leaders (Radian 6 comes to mind) are better known for pursuing a constant presence in the social media channels, maintaining relationships with the people who buy and use their products.
So, chaos – of a sort- still rules in the social technology space. We are certainly keeping a vigilant eye on developments, as what constitutes the best “tools cocktail” for clients constantly changes.
Members of Voce Nation frequently attend events at cities across the U.S. We will do our best to let you know where we are going to be.