Now Is Gone – Helping Companies Leverage New Media

now_is_gone.jpgOn August 11, 2006, at a campaign stop, incumbent Virginia Senator George Allen twice used the word macaca (a perceived racial term) to refer to S.R. Sidarth, who was filming the event as a “tracker” for Allen’s challenger, Jim Webb. Webb’s campaign moved aggressively to spread the video through social media channels like YouTube and blogs. Mainstream media echoed these reports and Allen’s fate was cast. Once considered a serious contender for the 2008 Presidential race, Allen lost his re-election bid and in doing so, shifted the balance of power in the US Senate to the Democrats.

It was a powerful demonstration of the power of social media and the speed with which messages can be shared broadly. It was also the event that convinced Washington, DC PR guy Geoff Livingston that his world had forever changed.

In this new age of the empowered public, organizations have lost control of the conversation. People increasing turn to peers for opinions, news and even entertainment. Empowered by powerful new tools and social networks that are not bound by geography, the people formerly known as “the audience” are now in control. Livingston points out that:

“Businesses are realizing they will be forced to communicate to their customers in the consumers’ own preferred social media forms. Instead of businesses trying to find customers, this time businesses are trying to play catch-up with their customers.”

….and that fundamentally changes the Public Relations game. The problem is most organizations don’t know how to market through social media. Recognizing that opportunity, Livingston, a well respected blogger whose PR firm has real world experience applying social media principles to businesses, has taken the time to distill that experience into a set of ideas others can use.

In his new book, now is gone, Livingston discusses the general strategic principles and major aspects of social network marketing, providing executives a primer to begin their effort.

Start With the Right Attitude

The introduction (written by Brian Solis) does a great job of educating the reader about the new realities of marketing in the age of the hyper-connected, empowered consumer:

PR 2.0 starts with listening and reading, and leads to insight, understanding, and perspective. This inspires respect, which is the critical ante for participation in the social economy.

  • Listening is marketing.
  • Participation is marketing.
  • Media is marketing.
  • Conversations are marketing.

Understand and Apply The Basic Principles

Over the following chapters, Livingston discusses the increasing role of new media in consumers’ lives helps the reader understand the basic principles of marketing effectively using social media. What makes this book so useful is that Livingston uses his background in traditional PR to explain these principles using terminology and strategies familiar to traditional marketers. Those Seven Principles of Social Media Communications are:

  1. Relinquish message control — Command and Control is dead. Businesses will have a hard time with this, but in a conversational marketplace, two-way communication rules. Organizations that refuse to give up control “will be met with anger, distrust and either rebellion or distrust”
  2. Honesty, ethics, and transparencies are a must — No one wants a relationship with someone who doesn’t behave well. This is about “human relations” and applying The Golden Rule.
  3. Participation within the community is marketing — Just putting out content won’t cut it. You have to participate withing the community, reading and commenting on other people’s content.
  4. Communication to audiences is an outdated 20th century concept — Audiences receive one-way messages (as in mass communication). The audience has been replaced by the community and they are talking. You had better be listening and engaging.
  5. Build value for the community — The is about getting to know your community and what they care about through listening, reading and understanding. Then making a conscious decision to deliver content back that they will value.
  6. Inspire your community with real, exciting information — A press release to your stakeholders does not inspire them. Product details don’t get them excited. Leverage you subject matter expertise to build intrinsic value.
  7. Manage the media form with intelligence and you will build a community of people who become very loyal to you — Here’s a concept that shows up everywhere – Make it Easy for your community come back through calls to action, intelligent RSS feeds, a central landing point. Cultivate sustained interest through regular content updates.

Throughout the book, Livingston uses real world examples to illustrate successes and failures. now is gone is a great tool for organizations who are ready to start participating in their communities. Are you ready? Chances are your competitors are. What are you waiting for? After all, now really is gone!

2 comments so far

  1. Geoff Livingston on

    Doug: Thank you for taking the time to review the book! I’m glad you liked it.

  2. Lewis Green on

    Good review Doug. I look forward to reading Geoff’s book.


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