One of the most impactful viral videos, demonstrating how powerful social networks have become, is the Social Media Revolution. (If you have not seen it by now, stop and watch the latest version before reading this article.)
The video creator and author of Socialnomics, Erik Qualman, gave the morning keynote address at the LIMRA LOMA Social Media for Financial Services Conference.
Qualman, seen as an expert among experts, said of social media, "It is less about technology and more about long-term relationships and clients."
He firmly told the financial services attendees (mostly heads of marketing or compliance), how a brand is not something we decide, it is the clients that decide what it is. "We don't have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it," added Qualman.
Listen Online Or Else
He suggested a repetitive process of listening, selling, reacting and interacting. The one area where most drop the ball is reacting, even if positive things are happening.
For listening, he gave an example of how an airline customer complained about his guitar getting broken, but had no luck for a year getting the problem resolved. The musician wrote a song called "United Breaks Guitars" and it now has 12 million views on YouTube. Qualman said if the airline had only listened and reacted sooner, the loads of negative publicity might have been avoided.
He suggested that attendees do not just have to listen for bad things. They can look for opportunities.
What Happens Online Does Not Go Away
The digital legacy is becoming more important. "People are researching you and deciding if they want to engage with you," he added.
Qualman gave an example of Bill O'Reilly screaming profanity after a "Rick Roll" practical joke on his TV set. It happened years ago, but now the video has millions of views on YouTube.
Qualman gave an equation: Digital legacy = footprints + shadows. In other words, what people can find online about an individual or a firm is partly controlled content and the other portion is not. "Shadows," the digital legacy that is out of one's control, starts before a good portion of children have even been born, with the common practice of posting pictures from an ultrasound.
Not all cases of negative footprints or undesirable shadows end up bad, though. "We are all going to make mistakes. It is not a question of if, it is a question of when," said Qualman. He then referenced the term "flawsome." "It is when you turn your flaws into awesomeness," explained Qualman. In other words, if mistakes are addressed the right way, they can help build even stronger relationships with existing clients.
More Changes In Store
Qualman envisions a day when all products and services will be rated, and he went as far as to say people will be rated too. He explained how this is even starting to take shape with Klout and Kred, which measure individuals' online influence.
Qualman told attendees, "You need to network before you need your network. You can't replace face to face, but you can augment it."
To further show that we are living in a revolution, the group watched his video named "Technology Will Kill." It makes the case that there are many things that will be replaced in this digital decade.
To be successful five years from now, businesses need to be aware that social media is changing the way the game is being played. If they can stay ahead of the trends, they are likely to be more successful.