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“Business communication and marketing has altered radically since the rise of the World Wide Web in the 1990s

The initial response from most organisations was to put their conventional printed brochures onto the web, replicating what they always did in print and thinking that was good enough.

BBC News

Eventually though the real advantage of the web was realised, that of two-way connection. This ultimately of course led to the development of social media networks, where terms such as user generated content came into general use, where consumers of information became providers and the traditional supplier-customer relationships have broken down to a large extent.

Social networks can seem scary to those who are used to strongly controlling message and even identity.

A recent article on the BBC covers these fear factors in some depth.

But let’s take a step back and think more positively

Any new media form needs those who can handle it, the digital native is a popular term, and a change in attitude from those using it to promote themselves or their business.

The difference now of course is that you are open to communication 24 hours a day, globally. That might seem like a problem. But it’s a great opportunity if you know how to manage it properly, or are willing to let someone do that job for you.

In March 2018 The Museum of English Rural Life was unknown to most people. I suspect even in the town of Reading, where the museum exists as a real place you can go and visit a collection of farming equipment, model Duck decoys for shoots, and Victorian paintings of Pigs, Cows and Sheep.

MERL The absolute Unit
By April 2018 The MERL had gone viral on twitter, after posting this picture of a sheep called “The Absolute Unit”
By April 2019 The MERL had these figures on Twitter:
How and why this happened is all detailed in this fabulous piece:

The story ends with Adam Koszary moving from his social media management job in a sleepy museum, to being employed by Elon Musk to become social media manager for Tesla

So what does this mean for your business? It’s only numbers of people on twitter.
Are they really the sort of people who are going to buy your service or product?

Well I think it does matter. Think of some famous ad campaigns in the past, the language they used has entered into common parlance and the collective memory.

Fay Weldon invented “Go to work on an egg” for the Egg Marketing Board. Salman Rushdie, “Naughty but Nice” for Cream Cakes. We’ve all grown up with the phrases “A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play” and “Beanz, Meanz Heinz”. There are countless further examples of witty, pithy, risky phrases used in old print advertising.

But too often businesses seem scared to take a risk with what they’re doing on social media to promote themselves, and this is on a form where the media is no longer static. They’re stuck in a simple brochure or product shot being enough.

What’s actually required I think is more willingness to engage, both with customers and competitors. To point to the unusual, to try and go viral. This is especially important where your product or service might be being seen as obsolete or out of fashion, and is under threat from a new competing product or service. What’s needed then I think is raised awareness across the whole of social media, not cowering in your niche.

But it also needs to have time dedicated to it to work if you’re going to differentiate yourself from the morass of largely similar corporate media flowing past us on social media. The old rules haven’t really changed though.

Be outstanding and take a risk!

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