Still not convinced social media is a good way to spread the word? Let's take a look at this past Thursday (10/15/09) and the five hours that 'balloon boy' captivated the world. Balloon boy is a 6 year old from Colorado that was, at the time, believed to be trapped in a homemade hot air balloon floating out of control. Local authorities and the National Guard reacted quickly to the situation (read balloon boy story here), but the world saw an even faster response from the Internet through social networks like Twitter. Within minutes of the story breaking the term "balloon" was trending on Twitter at over 1600 tweets per minute. Twitter accounts were created, claiming the names @boyintheballoon and @balloonboy almost immediately. A website, http://www.whereisballoonboy.com was created to provide updates on the story. Before the boy was even found, "Save Balloon Boy" t-shirts were available for purchase online. Just now a tweet came through my TweetDeck advertising Balloon Boy shirts for $30. What's my point? Social media works.
So what? I'm not balloon boy, you may be saying to yourself. True, and your latest press release may not be capable of grounding all flights over the Rockies like balloon boy did, but we learn a few essential lessons in social media here.
1. People are listening - If you have something to say, there are people on the social networks who are listening. Tell the Twitterverse about your latest product release, a new deal you're offering, or about a great new testimonial you just got. People will listen... and respond.
2. Social Media is a conversation - Within minutes of the balloon boy fiasco there were thousands and thousands of people talking about it online. There were comments on news reports, Twitter arguments about the boy's fate, and group prayers being tweeted back and forth. The point is that it was a conversation, much like any incident of social media. Engage your audience on social networks, and expect them to respond. Establishing a dialogue between your business and prospective customers is the key to social media success.
3. It's easy to steal a reputation - Was balloon boy really setting up Twitter and Facebook accounts to advertise cheesy products during this whole event? Nope, but a few individuals capitalized on 'ballon boy' and shamelessly plugged their products to thousands of concerned balloon boy fans. If you only listen to one sentence in this whole blog, make it this: Claim your social media identity before someone else does. Even if you're not quite ready to start tweeting about your latest product, claim your name and your reputation.
4. Social Media works - This point is simple. Where did the world turn for their balloon boy information? Social Media. Social Media has overtaken email and is now the most popular online activity (besides search engines, of course), and it's not just bored teenagers anymore. The fastest growing segment of social media use is adults 35+, meaning your audience is on social media.
Not quite sure how to get started on social media? Find a great Orlando social media marketing firm.