SmallerIndiana, a Ning network created by Pat Coyle, turned out to be the forum that provided the most responses to my question:
Which social media companies/consultants do you admire and what have they done to earn your admiration?
I decided to dive in a little deeper to the firms that were mentioned. When looking into a new company, I like to see how the firm describes themselves. Typically, this is done with a lengthy paragraph that is very well written. However, within that paragraph there is typically a few self-describing words that capture the essence of the firm.
TrendyMinds – “We are not just another PR/advertising firm, we’re an innovating firm.”
Cross Creative – “a professional web design company”
Silver Square – “We help business owners build a path to their next milestone.”
Professional Blog Service – “We provide the perspiration”
Brandswag – “We help companies incorporate new, creative marketing tools”
MediaSauce – “We are a connection company”
RoundPeg – “a full service marketing firm”
Similarities? For the most part, Smoosiers (as the Smaller Indiana folks are referred to colloquially) admire firms using social media in the marketing space (and ancillary spaces, like public relations, sales, advertising, etc).
Interesting. “Social Media” is a collective term for several emerging technologies. As such, the technologies are still “new” and they have not been universally adopted. Businesses that are willing to take the leap on new technologies are typically doing so because they believe they will quickly get a return on their investment. The easiest way to calculate an ROI is to believe the technology will increase sales, thus the preponderance of marketing-like firms in the social media market.
While I believe using Social Media for marketing-related purposes is essential, I’m also interested to see what other uses firms are finding for social media in the business.
My favorite example Pancheros, the burrito chain based in Iowa City, Iowa. Their social media story is described well here on the Lava Row blog. (where I first heard about it). In short, they’re reaching out to engage their customers by monitoring the Twitterstream, displaying the Twitterstream live in the restaurants, and encouraging their customers to “follow them on Twitter” and they’re doing it in such a way that it doesn’t impose on the experience of their customers that either have no idea what’s going or simply don’t care. That’s what I think is great about it – they’re using social media to build brand affinity and community with their customers.
What they’re not doing is working social media aggressively to attract new customers, at least not yet. In fact, on cursory glance at the corporate website, they don’t even mention their blog or Twitter handle.
Another use for social media that I read about recently came from a joint study conducted by University of Evansville, in Evansville, Indiana and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Their research found that the impressions of a perspective employee that an employer can glean from social networking web sites is a fairly accurate portrayal of that person. To quote one of the researchers, Prof Peter Rosen, “The consistency among the student raters allows us to support the claim that Facebook & Social Networking Websites in general can be used to predict performance measures like IQ and GPA, as well as the personality of the Facebook user."
Of course many of these firms know this, groups like MediaSauce have been putting on educational seminars on options for social media for some time.. I had the opportunity to attend one of their seminars several months ago and was impressed by the robust nature of their recommendations. My wife, who works for a national non-profit headquartered here locally, attended (and enjoyed) a seminar they put on last week on using social media to further a cause.
I’ll be researching many other firms, including many of those listed above, to see how they’re using social media and will record it here.