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The Web is Social, The Web is Real-Time

The Web is Social, The Web is Real-Time

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Published by Alisa Leonard

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Published by: Alisa Leonard on Jan 11, 2011
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The Web is Social, The Web is Real-Time
Marketing, adaptation and the techno-cognitive madness
Our World Has Changed
Social media has fundamentally dislodged the traditional communicationsequilibrium. Content scarcity has given way to content overload, fixed channels ofcommunication have dissolved into fluid and complex networks of informationexchange, and once-captive audiences have now become active participants in alargely consumer-driven conversation. This shift requires a new course of actionfor brands; it demands new marketing imperatives.
The answer does not lie insocial media
marketing alone, or in what social media marketing is purported tobe. The solution lies in understanding changing behaviors, patterns ofcommunication and modes of living that the social web merely illuminates. Wemust adapt and apply new thinking, skills and methodologies based on theseinsights.
“The Web is more a social creation than a technical one.”
The Web is Social
For years my personal blog has bannered the title “The Web is Social,” a phrasethat has seemed to garner more smiles and winks than serious consideration.However, when we examine the nature of the web as it is now, we quickly see just what this phrase actually means. The web
!
s architect himself, Tim Berners-Lee, stated, “The Web is more a social creation than a technical one.” The web isliterally a network of experiential touch points, creating through its iterationsincreasing degrees of social context and personalization in end user experiences.Touch points on the web today may best be described as falling into one of threesocial categories:
 
Explicitly social,
as in the case of Facebook or Twitter where the primary function ofthese touch points is to enable explicit social interaction and communication
 
Contextually social,
as when reading the New York Times online or shopping onAmazon—the primary functions here are to consume media or to shop, but theexperience is contextualized by social connectivity (comments, Likes, Shares, and nowFacebook Connect and the Open Graph API)
 
Influenced by “social signals,”
as is the case with the engines, Google in particular,who increasingly leverage social data to determine relevancy and rank within search
 
Social Media Marketing Redux
Social media marketing has matured over the years as the web itself has evolvedto become what might aptly be described as an entirely social environment.For marketers, however, “social media” still largely exists within a channel-basedmarketing paradigm; and, for many social media is simply a new channel.However, the rise of social media is more than simply the rise of a new “channel”opportunity. It has signaled the rise of a new, complex consumer modality,generating altogether new behaviors and communicative norms in general.
We,as consumers, seem to be on the brink of a kind of techno-cognitivenomadism
, a world in which communication output is evermore ubiquitous,ambient and continuous —where conversation and activity, from tweets to Likesand Shares, are not only visible pieces of meta-data, but forms of content in theirown right.
The link between content, identity and activity is tightening, fast.
We continue to witness the evolution of content and its consumption as a directcorollary to the evolution of the social web itself.As the web, and the new patterns of behavior it begets evolve, so must we see achange in how we approach our marketing philosophies and practices (I wouldadd that it mandates an evolution in business practices, but that is a topic to beexpounded upon in another context).
“Social media,” as a marketing practice,should truly be embedded everywhere and “live” nowhere.
It
!
s not aboutsocial media marketing—it's about live, “real-time,” adaptive marketing. It
!
s aboutbeing Aware, Agile and Active in a networked world of continuous, channel-agnostic content and conversation.
It
!
s Time to Evolve
While marketing philosophies are great, it
!
s the practical business application ofthese ideas that drives change. The opportunity is to meet the challenge beforeus through new methodologies and innovative creativity to architect and executesolutions that
operate at the speed of the web
. It means executing, testing anditerating on data-driven strategies brought to life through nodal experiencedesign, agile content creation, community architecture, active management, andactionable analytics.
We Need a New Kind of “Brand Awareness”
Brands must develop a new kind of “brand awareness.”
They themselves mustbecome Aware—aware of their own identity
as it is molded and formed in theweb through consumer-driven content and conversation.Being Aware means pulling real-time insights from multiple data inputs—fromconversation data and search intelligence to a variety of market research tactics,
 
to deliver actionable insights into customer needs, preferences, behaviors andtechnographics.Our understanding of “insights” must evolve too—it’s about knowing who your customer is
right now 
, in real-time, all the time.
It’s about real-time awarenessrather than historical trends.
Synthesis of insights and opportunities drives thecrafting of real-time marketing strategies designed to support iterativeengagement-- engagement that is relevant, timely and focused on driving resultsthat impact not only your brand buzz factor, but actualize real business goals.
Agility Rules
A brand must be agile, adept at acting upon data and iterating its digitalexperience based on real-time insights. Brand experiences on the web are nolonger isolated to a controllable brand website or campaign-based paid mediatouch points. It includes every touch point – from “earned” search and socialvisibility to “owned” and “borrowed” branded social capital. Designing the brandexperience doesn
!
t just mean designing a great site as a center hub surroundedby spokes. It requires
architecting a live ecosystem
, functioning together inreal-time through content and community.
Adaptive Content is King
 “Real-time” centers on the ability to generate content, lots of it. Brands must nowact as mini media entities—with
real-time relevancy predicated on activeparticipation in conversation through dialogue and content
. But not justcontent, content that moves, adapts and functions like conversational currency.Unlike the traditional marketing approach to content creation (generally staticweb copy, a set of videos and photo assets), real-time marketing requires “agilecontent development.” This means creating rich, engaging content on anongoing basis. It requires new creative skill sets, a hybrid ability to create andcurate media, develop derivative conversation-as-content and understand how tomarket content-as-product. There is no longer the luxury of staggeredcampaigns, heavy asset development and controlled channels of distribution.
The web, and conversation therein, doesn
!
t sleep, and now neither canbrands.
 
Community Architecture, #FTW
Content alone does not create successful real-time marketing. Success requireslive, active and adaptive dialogue, participation and management. Working hand-in-hand with the ongoing content development,
proper community design andmanagement is crucial to digital relevancy
. It goes beyond what might beconsidered “community management,” it requires a new breed ofcommunications strategy and digital marketing expertise.

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