Evolve CommunicationsSocial Media

Posts Tagged: Social Media

The Shifting Locus of Community

As students of the media, as well as participants in the news process, Evolve Communications has taken the time to think critically about the role media plays in society. If you look back at the origins of the newspaper and news organizations, their mission was to be the voice of already existing, highly localized communities. Even when news organizations shifted to mass media (i.e. radio, television and widely distributed print publications), there was a strong commitment to being the voice of a group of people tied together by a set of cultural commonalities.

As the profit motive grew into an imperative by media organizations, the focus shifted away from community to ratings and settled on what we would call bottom-line thinking. Before the Internet existed, news organizations’ sole focus on profits contributed to the fragmentation of audiences (ala cable TV), with critics bemoaning the quality of news and its lack of ability to foster community.

Today, of course, community has taken on an entirely different meaning. Today, communities can still be localized, but they can also span geographies as they unite people with both common interests and culture. It’s common knowledge that the place where communities are formed has moved online.

Some news organizations are doing a great job of refocusing on building community by engaging people through social media. Others still don’t get it. Case in point: the Washington Post’s memo stating that the paper’s sole use of social channels should be to spread news and not engage readers online.

Communities happen where there is conversation. We don’t know yet if community can support for-profit media, but what we do know is this: for-profit media needs to support the communities they serve. And they can do that by communicating with their audiences–wherever those audiences may be.

Why Evolve Doesn’t Have a Facebook Page

Someone recently asked us why Evolve Communications doesn’t have a Facebook page. There’s a very simple, direct answer to that:

We value confidentiality and discretion.

In an age where transparency is touted as the cornerstone of social media, confidentiality and discretion are valuable gems that are coveted for their rarity. As we state on our Clients page, we keep our clients confidential unless they agree to publicly talk about their relationship with Evolve. We’re happy to be brought on as a strategic partner, but for some of our work, we’re brought on as a member of the team. We provide white-label services, and confidentiality is an essential ingredient to the continued success of Evolve.

Relationship building–which is at the core of what Evolve does–isn’t just about engagement and exchange of information. It’s also about trust. And for us, we build trust with our clients by ensuring that their business stays their business (except, of course, when they need us to tout their accomplishments–which is an entirely different story).

Getting back to the question about a Facebook page for Evolve–we’d love to have one. In fact, we love working on them for our clients. But to ask our clients to like an Evolve Facebook page would, potentially, betray our confidentiality with our clients. That’s not to say that we won’t have a page in the future, of course.

We value our relationships with our clients more than we value self-promotion, and we simply believe that is more important to Evolve’s long-term growth.

Old Spice: Don’t forget the bookmarks!

The marketing world is all a-Twitter about the latest social media extension of the now very famous Old Spice ads (original one here, newest one here). These two ads have received more than 20 million views combined on YouTube, and the ad agency’s team extended it beyond a commercial is as masterful as the original commercials’ production.

In case you haven’t heard, the creative team created a series of short videos where the star of the commercial responded directly to comments on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets.

I won’t go into the details of the campaign here, for there are plenty of analyses elsewhere. But one key detail that is not getting enough attention is how the group seeded it, as revealed in this great interview with the creative team. They didn’t start on Facebook or Twitter. They started on Digg and Reddit, two of the most popular social bookmarking sites. Many people forget (or weren’t even thinking about social media), but before Twitter and Facebook, there was Digg and Reddit, and they were both highly influential communities. It might seem easy to forget about them, with the mainstream media attention being lavished on larger sites, but the Old Spice campaign shows that they can still be an amazing source of traffic.

That said, the Old Spice people knew their audience. They knew that Digg users are fanatical, and would be thrilled to see the pop culture icon wishing Digg founder Kevin Rose get better (he’s been sick).

I get asked a lot what is the value of using social bookmarking sites. Like any other social network, you have to invest time and energy to realize any benefit. That means engaging with people in the network, and in the case of social bookmarking sites, that means not just bookmarking your own content, but sharing content that is interesting and contributes to the community. It also means commenting on other content posted on the site and interacting with people. And unless you’re offering up some pop culture gems, don’t expect your blog post on the theory of fundraising for non-profits in rural Canada to make it to the front page.