Michiel Buitelaar is an expert on social media. At the FIPP Congress in Rome, he will preside over a session on the subject, explaining the latest trends and opportunities.
What is relatively new about social media, is that that push is more and more becoming pull, and that a ‘distributed exchange’ of opinions, self-made content and ‘professional content’ is shaping itself. Now that we all thought that we just had learned SEO (search engine optimisation), we are facing the next wave: what do other people find ‘socially interesting’? It is a bit of a cliché, but consumers are exerting more and more control.
Social media offer a variety of means to activate brands; and to signal and distribute content. The generic label ‘social media’ may well be misleading, as it covers various quite different things, with different characteristics, strengths, geographic relevance, etc. There are many, diverse phenomenons called ‘social media’.
In some markets, Facebook numbers seem to be falling. But, ‘social media’ is not Facebook. There is Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest and others. Social media in various forms are here to stay. Also, within the realm of social media, evolution and differentiation are happening. There will be different types of social media to some extent. And, there will be some people checking out after a while.
Keeping communities fresh is something they do themselves, to some extent at least. But, some help is useful or even needed. It is about providing themes, as well as exposure – also in other media, e.g. picking up those themes in magazines, TV and other online presences; and about leveraging brands to get people to express themselves.
Engagement and commerce
Commercial messages have to be perceived as relevant. The editorial management of a forum has to be seen as sincere; as honest. That is essential.
There is no simple recipe. Certain brands enable more than other brands, to start with. A brand can influence (heavily) what will be accepted.
One simple approach: just ask the audience. Let them give feedback. Our experience is that some commercial messages are really appreciated. And that people like to participate in a discussion on that. It is honest and open to have a discussion on it.
As I said, no simple recipe. Let me come back to this topic in my talk.
Social and magazines
Social ‘channels’ are and will continue to be very important for magazines and the like. ‘Social’ – as stated before, is a rather high-level term – it is a key means to creating and maintaining brand value; and just a means to influence traffic. Being able to understand, predict and influence ‘social traffic’ is an essential capability for magazine makers, I believe.