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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Social Media Series: Rich Nadworny On Bridging New & Old

This week's guest for Flooring The Consumer's Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old is Rich Nadworny.

Rich Nadworny writes the Digital Strategy Blog for Digalicious, the company he founded, which offers "delicious digital marketing strategy." In other words, strategies that provide customers, prospects and employees with reasons to become engaged in what we create. Once engaged, they are more likely to interact with us.

The reasons shouldn't come as a surprise to any of us at this point: the consumer is in control and one-way shouting no longer works. Digital, on the other hand, creates opportunities for dialogue, as Rich explains in Social Media Makes One-Way Media Two-Way.

By the way, if you are in the Burlington, VT area on June 1, 2009, consider attending the Burlington Social Media Breakfast that Digalicious and The Communication and Creative Media Division at Champlain College have organized. For more information and to register, visit the Burlington Social Media Breakfast site.

You can find Rich on Twitter @RNadworny. That's where I met him. His post about being a hybrid, renaissance person or even polymath beautifully captures why bridging new and old matters...

C.B.: Rich, how and why did you get involved in social media?

Rich: I would say I've been involved in social media a long time. Back in the early 90s social media was Usenet News groups, one of the best social tools of the early Internet. One thing I've noticed is that the new tools do a lot of what Usenet did, they just do it much better and much more personally. I've been involved in developing online marketing and Web sites since 1996. I remember creating one program in 2000 for an anti-smoking campaign where we developed something we called MySpace to let teens create their own space and connect with other teens! Should've taken out a patent on that one.

For current social media, I've been playing with it for the past 4 or 5 years, although I have to say that I haven't gotten into any of them (Second Life, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.) to the extent I've gotten into Twitter. For the past 8 months I've been totally obsessed with it and I think it's the best thing to happen to the Internet since Free Shipping!

[Note: read Rich's post Is Twittter the New Usenet?]

C.B.: What do you like most about social media?

Rich: I love the fact that I can connect with people I've followed and admired for a long time and build a two-way relationship with them. In general, that's one of the best things with social media: It's an amazing way of turning one-way, broadcast media (TV, radio, news) into a two-way discussion.

C.B.: What do you like least about social media?

Rich: 1. It takes up too much time 2. There's a lot of noise and chatter which can ultimately make some good channels not so good. This is what happened to MySpace and the risk is that it's going to happen to Facebook and Twitter soon, too.

I think, though, that while the names may change, there will always be innovators to take the tools to the next level. They're not going away anytime soon.

C.B.: How has social media changed how you interact with the marketplace as a consumer or customer?

Rich: As a consumer, I totally rely on strangers' opinions for almost everything I buy, from electronics, to household goods, to cars and vacations. It's kind of crazy when I say it like that, but it's true. Social media has started the undeniable shift in marketing control from the producers, or brands, to the consumers. And thank God for that! It's about time.

[Note: check out Rich's post How Do You Buy?]

C.B.: What 5 suggestions do you have for companies to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users?

1. Listen. Most companies are pretty bad at this anyway, but they have to start being very good at it. It will make them much better at what they do.

2. Use social media to solve problems. This is, I think, the silver bullet. If you listen to the complaints and use social media to help fix things, you win. It shows that you take people seriously, that you connect with them personally, and that you care about them. Companies who do this will find that their word-of-mouth marketing will grow substantially.

3. Be generous. Most companies have content that people are interested in. Share it without asking for something in return. The return will come, but it's hard for companies to get in the habit of giving something away, even if it has little value in the company's eyes.

4. Connect social media to the rest of your outbound marketing. See above about making one way two way. Integrate this into everything (print, TV, direct and online).

5. Tap into existing constellations rather than building your own. It's easier, cheaper and more authentic. You may have to give up control, but that's what it's all about these days. If you build it, they probably won't come.

Extra Credit 6. You have to connect social media with both the marketing and customer service groups in your company. It can't survive without support of the other two groups. The other two groups will also become much better themselves when they're connected with social media.

C.B.: Rich, any other thoughts to share about the effectiveness of social media in forging stronger relations with customers and how best to do so.

Rich: Think of the best person you know, and then use that persona as your social marketing model. It works.

Thank you, Rich!

Comments? Questions? Reactions?

What about using social media to solve problems? Have you considered doing that? What about tapping into 'existing constellations rather than building your own?' Is that scary to you?

I love the notion of connecting social media with marketing and customer service. That to me is what makes social media tools so very powerful...

For additional insights from participants in the Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old, please visit The Entire Bridging New & Old Social Media Series.

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