Social media has been the big buzz in marketing communications for some time now. Most organisations are now using it in some shape or form, with varying degrees of success.
Its use has permeated everywhere and forced communications teams and management to ask searching questions about the way they communicate.
But are we all too focused on the big branded platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+? I think we are.
Social media is just a function of the web. When I refer to the social web I am talking about how all websites are linked and interact together to form a powerful ecosystem, which most of us access via Google.
If businesses and brands think about how to harness the social web rather than just social media then they are beginning to think more strategically about how their business can be marketed online.
Traditional PR has been at the heart of the social web since the internet’s year zero, but often without realising it.
A piece of online press coverage, be it in a small blog or the huge national newspaper like the Guardian, is as much a part of the social web as your Facebook page. Your company website is just as important too.
So why is differentiating between the social web and social media important?
- Thinking about the social web rather than social media makes measuring digital campaigns so much easier because via Google Analytics your website can play a central role in tracking objectives
- Isolating social media metrics from the rest of the web is nearly impossible and is an artificial construct that bears no relationship to the real world.
- By focusing on the social web, your real-world relationships can be tracked and measured more effectively. E.g. how are your suppliers helping improve the reputation of your business online. For example, do they link to your website or blog about you?
- The social web takes into consideration press coverage from your PR department. E.g.it can be measured in terms of branded search traffic, referral or the SEO value of a link in an article
- The efforts of your PR and SEO companies are more accurately accounted for, e.g. are they driving visitors, leads and sales and supporting online marketing in general
- Your social media efforts are more accountable, e.g. you can look at realworld relationships and how they play out via multiple digital and real world touching points