Brave New Media World
When I first took on the role of Community Manager and Social Media Strategist at National Instruments, I felt like an electronic Christopher Columbus, navigating and exploring the Brave New Media World. Then, I quickly began my own revolutionary war — preaching the ways of new media. I identified social media foot soldiers in places like advertising, events, corporate communications, and design. Their job was to influtrate the current governing body and find ways to utlizile the wonderful user-generated content that exists in places like blogs, forums and online communities in the more traditional forms of marketing communication. Luckily, we had the support of corporate leadership (just another reason I love working for NI!).
Our methodology has paid off. Recently, Forrester Analyst Josh Bernoff made the folowing statement in a Groundswell blog post:
Thanks, Josh! 🙂
Part of this recommendation stems from Forrester research that shows B2B buyers have very high social participation for both work and business — which just makes sense. When I’m evaluating a new product for work, like a social media monitoring platform, I’m highly likely to turn to my network on Twitter, read relevant blog posts and create reviews based on my trail version.
While this all “sounds great,” I’m sure many of you are wondering what does that actually mean. Here are some specifics:
National Instruments encourages users to participate in discussion forums, exchange example code, contribute technical tutorial and videos, and even blog right on our domain. This helps ensure the success of our users. Since no one idustry represents more than 10 percent of our revenue, it is key for NI to connect like-minded customers and get information from subject-matter experts. Additioanlly, it is good for Web traffic. Currently, 40 percent of all visitors come into user-generated and technical content on the site.
Managing this content and the users is the “communiy manager” part of my job, while the social media strategist side works with the “foot soldiers” to utilize this great UGC throughout marketing. For example, in our award wining online and print newsletters, NI News and Instrumentation Newsletter, we have dedicated sections in each issue that highlight user-generated content as well as innovative community members. This helps encourage repeat participation, adds third-party credibility to our story, and helps domain experts looking for specifics on a given topic.
Someone recently asked me — should social media be integrated into marketing or be its own department? And I think right now it’s a bit of both. Just because your on Facebook, doesn’t mean you are Facebook strategist; however, if your social media program does not have a clear handshake with the rest of marketing it will not be successful. Ashley Brown, at Brilliant Magazine, got me thinking that pretty soon New Media Managers will just become Media Managers. Unless, we all jump on the semantic Web bandwagon. 🙂
For B2B companies, considering testing out “new media,” don’t be afraid. If you have clear goals and integration with the rest of your marketing efforts, it will be a great success.