The internets are buzzing with the news that social media darling Friendfeed has been acquired by Facebook. For those of us who use Friendfeed, it is a time of concern; will Friendfeed persist as an ongoing concern? Will it disappear into Facebook? Will it become something unrecognizable? Right now it is too early to say.
My analysis however, is that it doesn’t matter.
Each social media service has different strengths, weaknesses, and targeted capabilities. Friendfeed has a passionate, engaged community of early adopters that are enthusiastic about it’s core aggregation, filtering and messaging capabilities. Many of them are in mourning today.
They shouldn’t be.
I think the natural and understandable grief that comes from the potential of losing the community is obscuring the fact that in the end, what made the community possible was:
- a set of features (aggregation, filtering, messaging)
- real-time access to those features.
I believe that each of these two components will survive, thrive, and grow beyond what we currently can conceive—either as Friendfeed, Facebook or dozens of other forms. Web companies are in essence lab experiments. A problem is identified, an approach is hypothesized, and a solution is attempted. Friendfeed was one lab. There are, and will be countless others.
Of course, the mourning arises out of the community, not the features. In the instance of Friendfeed, the community has been formed. It (believe it or not) is not reliant on the technology. If the community matters, it will find plenty of other ways to connect and engage—there are no shortage of tools. The community simply needs to acknowledge it’s own power and take self ownership.
Knowing the people that comprise this community, I have no doubt that they will.
It has been an amazing and incredible month. Doing some very interesting work with clients, and frankly, it has taken me away from the blog more than I'd like.
Consistency in blogging (and communications in general) is a most nettlesome issue, and ironically, one that I work with people on all of the time. The truth is, it's not difficult at all to post regularly, but I have definitely discovered that for me, Twitter, Friendfeed, and Facebook have been much easier to use for short little pieces of communication, as opposed to the longer form communication of a blog.
There's nothing wrong with that, as long as you are providing value wherever you are. However, I've been itching to go into some issues in depth, and so you'll be seeing that more of that here than you have in the past month.
Back to the program…
If you followed the advice in my First Things First post, then you have developed your business goals and are starting work on a marketing plan. I know this may seem like business 101, I am continually amazed at how often ‘seat of the pants’ is the default mode of many operations.
There are many MANY resources online for how to develop a marketing plan. Your particular situation will determine how you proceed. What are some of the considerations you might wish to deal with as you integrate social media into your plan? Here’s a quick and (surely too) simple checklist. I’ll deal with these in more detail moving forward, but they can give you a quick calibration of your efforts.
- Remember that what you ultimately want to do is sell (gasp—yes, even you nonprofits). People buy from people/organizations that they like and trust. Keep that top of mind as you proceed.
- Evaluate your product or service. Make it the best it can be. If you want people to like and trust you–your product and service shouldn’t be a barrier to that. If you have work to do here, consider developing a collaborative strategy that engages your customers to help you improve, or get your ducks in a row prior to launching a social media campaign.
- Listen. A traditional approach might use press clipping services and professional monitoring. You might still need that, but social media gives you tools like alerts and searches to track conversations on your own. Take advantage of this – and automate the process so that results find you. Most importantly, make sure your plan addresses how you will ACT on what you learn.
- Know your customers (a.k.a. know your market). Who are they? How are they different from each other? Where do they hangout online? How do most of them participate online?
- Once you know the answers to #4, determine the best venues to setup outposts on the social web to engage with your customers. Don’t assume that Twitter and Facebook are the answers to this question. They may not be.
- Develop coherent and sustainable communication strategies to engage with your customers both on the outposts, and on your home site.
- How will you add value? What can you offer to Twitter users that is unique to Twitter? Same question/answer with Facebook, Friendfeed, etc. Make your outposts work for you by working for them.
- How will the above help you reach your goals?
Final advice: don’t be afraid to ask big questions. Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions. And be fearless as you develop your answers. You are integrating a new set of tools and opportunities into your plans – you might be surprised where they lead you.
A recent post from Lon Safko on the Fast Company blog talks about The 10 Commandments of Social Media:
- Thou Shalt Blog (like crazy).
- Thou Shalt Create Profiles (everywhere).
- Thou Shalt Upload Photos (lots of them).
- Thou Shalt Upload Videos (all you can find).
- Thou Shalt Podcast (often).
- Thou Shalt Set Alerts (immediately).
- Thou Shalt Comment (on a multitude of blogs).
- Thou Shalt Get Connected (with everyone).
- Thou Shalt Explore Social Media (30 minutes per week).
- Thou Shalt Be Creative (go forth and create creatively)!
At the risk of blasphemy, I’d like to suggest that these 10 Commandments are wrong. While there is value in following these rules, I believe that the real value is in strategically evaluating what your needs are, and then determining the best mix for you.
I suspect that the point here is to encourage people to not be fearful and timid – and I applaud that. However, if someone actually just did everything above, they would quickly lose interest, get cynical, and ultimately move on.
In summary: make a plan. Figure out which of the 10 Commandments works for you – and then go for it. Strategically.