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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Social Media Series: Steve Woodruff on Bridging New & Old

This week's guest for the Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old is Steve Woodruff.

Steve Woodruff is fascinating on several fronts. First, he bridges two worlds: pharmaceuticals and social media marketing. Second, within marketing Steve has developed a reputation for branding, experimentation [check out the Marketing Bloggers Portal] and intense musings. Third, he lives just a few miles down the road from me in Northern New Jersey.

On the pharmaceutical front, Steve Woodruff publishes Impactiviti, focusing on pharmaceuticals and training. StickyFigure is where Steve talks marketing, branding and social media. Have you read through his multi-part discussion about what he refers to as "Metamee" or One Interface to Rule them All? It's guaranteed to have you thinking about which social media marketing tools you use, why you use them and how the future might look...

In addition to Twitter and LinkedIn, you will find Steve at the MPDailyFix and Small Business Branding.

CB: How/why did you get involved in social media?

Steve: I'll blame LinkedIn for getting me started. I didn't have a fully-formulated social media plan those years ago (and even today, any strategy continues to rapidly evolve!); it just seemed like a very cool approach to something I wanted as a professional - better networking. Things really took off when I began blogging 2.5 years ago - first as part of launching my pharma consulting business (Impactiviti), then I began to give vent to my long-suppressed marketing and branding thoughts (StickyFigure). Social Media has been a very important outlet of self-expression for me - finding my writing and creative "voice" in a supportive community of other networked folks.

CB: What do you like most about social media?

Steve: I like the combination of strategy and serendipity. Much of what I do has planning and purpose behind it. Yet, when it comes to discovering new people and building relationships via networking, there is a wonderful "pinball" element to it. There would be no way to plot out or anticipate the people I've come to interact with (and greatly value) via blogging, Twitter, and other connected networks.

CB: What do you like least about social media?

Steve: It's a big, fragmented mess. But that's to be understood - the technologies are relatively young, the approaches are being hammered out iteratively, it's a messy evolutionary process. A new generation of tools is needed to help make sense of it all, and bring personalization and order to the info-storm.

CB: What 3 suggestions do you have for companies to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users? This can include specific [and effective] examples you have observed.

1. Companies should consider having one (or more) designated "spokespeople" for the brand, who skillfully build relationships using social media platforms. Scott Monty (Ford) is a good template for this [CB Note: Please consider reading Scott's post about Ford and the US Auto Industry].

2. Social media is a great opportunity for brands and companies to "get a life" and learn to have some informal fun with people in the marketplace. That builds attachment more effectively than expensive and monolithic one-way branding campaigns, IMHO.

3. Change the mentality from "buy my brand" to an invitation to "come on in" to the brand. Social media can be used as a welcome mat, an open door of hospitality to become part of the brand. Stop thinking of consumers, and start thinking of participants. That approach can span both old and new media approaches by simply looking at the audience in a different way, and building a comprehensive strategy with new entry points.

CB: Any other thoughts to share about the effectiveness of social media in forging stronger relations with customers.

Steve: We're coming full circle, to where a human face and personality can once again be attached to the things we buy. For quite some time in our mass media, that was obscured (except for celebrity endorsements, which are a different matter). We like to buy from people. Social media provides unique ways to restore this fundamental human drive to marketing again.

Thank you, Steve!

Comments? Reactions?

What about the notion of once again attaching human face & personality to what we buy? How feasible do these notions seem for your business? What other ways come to mind for bridging old and new?

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Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

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