In the 2nd part of our interview with social media specialist Donna Jackson, we find out her views on ROI, community management and the power of context.
IntelligentHQ: How do you see the evolution of content in the digital arena?
Donna: I always like to focus in on this fact when I’m talking to people about content – If you take every piece of content that has ever been produced since the beginning of time, including writing, telephone conversations, tape recordings, films and anything that can be considered media or communication, if you take all of that and just think about the volume of data and media there has been since the beginning to the present day. That amount of content is now replicated every day on the internet. And that always blows my mind!
When people are talking about “content, content, content,” I think it’s lost some of it’s cutting power. What is now relevant is context, which has become more powerful than content, because if you’re putting out what you consider to be good content, but you’re barking up the wrong tree, maybe because you haven’t built your audience or haven’t learnt the skills to do it digitally, you lose traction with your content. There is a whole graveyard of beautifully written blogs containing valuable and interesting content, but they’re dead because they could not join the dots. We now have millions of blogs out there and if you spread around the people who might comment on your blog, they’re much thinner on the ground because there’s so much more content. I find it mind-blowing that everyday there is this “fireman’s hose” of information coming from the TV, internet and telephones, and yet something you can hold in your hand like an iphone contains more information than all the technology from the beginning of time! People think that if you get online and just produce content you can build an audience and a platform on which to launch yourself. I think content has now evolved into context.
Television is still the zenith of where people want to go. If we look at a pop artist, they start putting stuff on Myspace and find a publisher. Seven years on they may have 20 million followers on Twitter. Why? Some of their followers on Twitter may have never properly listened to any of their songs. It’s because fashion says that if I’m cool I’ll follow Nicki Minaj, so now Nicki Minaj gets invited to be on every channel, be it on the TV or internet. The guy who’s interviewing her is probably around fifty five years old, he comes from another digital age, he has no comprehension of the power of having 20 million Twitter followers. It doesn’t matter what content she puts out, it doesn’t matter if she just says “Oh oh oh oh oh” four thousand times a year. It’s context that matters, the context is that she is the cool person to follow… if you’re under eighteen. People forget that content is only one part of it. You do need quality content, you do need to be filling something that is a gap or a need, but then you need context very quickly.
T: Can you tell us about your performance and experience on Twitter?
Donna: First I was Moneypenny on Twitter, because I was answering questions on money. I actually have around ten accounts registered, but Wisequeen is my main account. I also have winesocialclub which is a wine-lovers club I started online, which is a way to market on the online world. It now has lots of wine bloggers, sellers and makers who all collaborate on this platform. Twitter is so many things to so many people, it’s an information stream which is useful for help with technology. I’ve built a very good network on Twitter. It’s not the largest, but I interact intensively with all of them, and every six months I go through it and weed-out all the hangers-on.
T: How do you see the evolution of social media business?
Donna: I think people give them a life beyond what they are, they are just tools that we can use to communicate well or poorly, the power still lies within us. I don’t care much about terminology, or people who talk in soundbites. Social media business is online, and that is the future. Even though we have all of this, TV still dominates. We haven’t gone away from TV yet, but for many people TV is coming through their computer. It’s all about communication.
T: Community management is increasingly critical for self driven professionals and especially for businesses. Can you tell us your thoughts on this subject?
Donna: Community management is crucial. From my point of view, community has always existed because of word of mouth. It’s all about networking. For example, a telecomunications company would come to a community curator and say “We need a community to talk to each other.” and they would be using an intranet and would hope that no political jousting would take place, but the reality of business life is that there are silos. We may think we’ve gone a long way to breaking that down, but we’ve just made it harder to understand. In community management there are various silos, most of them are not shared apart from within that micro community. The big world wants to say we should all be part of a big community and care, but most people only care about what is important to them, and the only way to get people to interact on a community forum is to be useful to them. If you look at anybody who’s made money online, it’s based around one thing, “I’m going to make your life easier”. And that’s what it’s all about, community management has always been critical.
T: Where do you see social media engagement trends in business heading? How do you think it will change in the future?
Donna: Companies don’t have to become engaged with social media. Are they missing out on an opportunity? Yes. If they thought it was essential they would hire somebody to implement the necessary changes, but they’re not, not most anyway. I would say that the majority of companies are still not on the bus, because the directors are still fifty+, especially in Europe. 99% of companies are scared that if they talk about something on the social sphere someone will steal their idea. From a corporate perspective, we have a long way to go. People that do get onboard now have a huge advantage and I think in the future, companies will need to hire media directors who are experts in social media, and these people will be equal to the CEO in a company.
T: You are very involved in the startup world, can you tell us about it?
Donna: The tech startup world has existed properly for eight years. There is a huge amount of jargon that separates the men from the boys, and if you’re a businessman in a room with them and not part of that startup world, you would think they were talking another language. This may make them sound impressive, but if I ask them to explain their startup and they can’t do it in one simple sentence, they are wasting their time and their money. Because as soon as they want to get to critical mass, they will fail. If you have complicated the issue and used so much jargon that the person who could buy your product or service doesn’t know what you’re talking about, your destiny is to fail. Most startups never get off the ground because people are trying to reinvent the wheel, and a lot of them are copies with different names and better infrastructures, but not a different idea. Startups individually should be open to adapting, user-friendly and should fill a need, if they can reach critical mass there is a future for them, or they’ll just be another startup.
How do you measure ROI and success in social media?
ROI is a man who has a reputation of being more important than he is. He knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. How do you measure ROI? If I asked you what is the ROI of your mother what would you say to me? Considering everything your mother has done for you, how do you measure her value? You don’t try to, because you know she has defined you and made you who you are. Marketing people came up with this term ROI, and you can’t measure it. It’s timing that matters, ROI is not a particularly measurable science outside of the financial market. I measure ROR, which I define as Return On Relationship. In other words, if I have a relationship with a business person for ten years, I think where has it gone? We’ve achieved this, that, he’s opened my network up, and his ROR with me is huge, so that is more important to me than ROI.