Sometimes, a comment or a question comes in to the blog, and it fits exactly with one’s intention of the moment.
For example, I was already planning and composing an entry on the topic “branding in the age of email and social media”, when appeared a comment and a question from Philip Alford. Among other things, Philip asks, “What’s your take on the position that the pull of social media will gradually supplant the push of email?”
So, I will save my planned entry, or series of entries, for next time, and respond a bit to Philip’s question today.
Last week, I had an interesting conversation related to this subject with one of Emailvision’s clients in the UK. We were discussing the use of email with storytelling, as a device for getting users to tell their stories, and as a way to connect to social media. For example, a company sends out a message that tells a good story, asks for responses and/or stories from the customer base, and then provides the means to encourage the sharing of these stories via Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Often these days, we see companies sending email that seeks to generate user content, such as a contest to tell a story. Then, the company spreads the best stories to its stakeholders using the email channel.
The Emailvision client told me that she was already seeing this phenomenon happen in reverse. In other words, the user-generated content is already out there on the social sites. As a consequence, her company has begun scanning the internet to see what the user community is posting about the company’s products and brands. According to this particular client, there is far more happening on the social sites than the company had ever imagined.
So, the company now makes an active effort to find stories that already exist in blogs and on social sites, and then to “bring them out of the woodwork”.
In terms of answering Philip’s question about the pull of social media versus the push of email, today we are in a phase of coexistence, and of experimentation. The best marketing and branding will be done with creative combinations of the two tools.
Where are we going from here? I think I should heed the advice of legendary baseball manager Casey Stengel, who used to say, “Never make predictions, especially about the future.”
Our future is particularly difficult to predict in a world where trends seem to sweep though society at an ever-increasing pace. Since social sites such as Facebook and Twitter feel ubiquitous today, it is easy to forget that, as mainstream societal phenomena, they have only been around for a short time. Who knows if in the coming years if these sites will be displaced by the next hot thing, the next site that it seems like all the world has suddenly adopted?
Rather than predict, I propose that on this blog in the coming weeks I tell some stories from the clients I interview, stories about what I find as our “email, social media and storytelling” project unfolds.
Of course, your own stories, as well as comments and questions, are welcome!