Amanda Sachtleben goes on a mis­sion to re­gain her so­cial mojo

Idealog - - Contents - AMANDA SACHTLEBEN @Aman­daSa1

SEND­ING ANOTHER TWEET into cy­berspace to be greeted by the time-poor, the pop­u­larly retweeted and the ‘on the band­wagon but dis­in­ter­ested’, I re­cently lost my so­cial lovin’.

If I were a Kiwi startup with wares to ped­dle, I’d be won­der­ing about the ex­tent of so­cial ROI. What price (in time and re­sources) a vi­ral video, a sassy post that shows your cus­tomers you’ve still got it, or a zeit­geist­tap­ping con­test? We’re so­cial ad­dicts by global stan­dards, at least in terms of the time we spend us­ing the ma­jor net­works each month, and the num­ber of Ki­wis get­ting their fix has grown from 1.8 mil­lion to more than 2.8 mil­lion in­side the past two years.

A big­ger au­di­ence might spell a big­ger op­por­tu­nity but it equally means a more vast and baf­fling land­scape. Where do you fire your shots when tar­gets are hid­den in masses of user hud­dles? Kiwi so­cial me­dia stats are il­lu­mi­nat­ing as much for the plethora of chan­nels as for us­age lev­els.

YouTube and Face­book have each hooked close to 55 per­cent of our pop­u­la­tion, record­ing slight de­creases from one month to the next, Ad­Corp told us in Septem­ber. Word­Press made the big­gest gain at 9.2 per­cent; Tum­blr’s was five per­cent.

With YouTube the most-used lo­cal chan­nel, is video killing all the other stars? If so, should you be climb­ing Vine as well? Did your work do the Har­lem Shake? Where’s Grumpy Cat? Is it still cool to plank, twerk and butt race?

So­cial fol­lower num­bers used to be a badge of hon­our – sell­ing fol­low­ers to the des­per­ate be­came a thing – whereas now we’re told they don’t mat­ter. Google+, while big glob­ally, failed to record the data re­quired to make the lat­est top 15 Kiwi so­cial chan­nels, but Pin­ter­est, Red­dit, TripAd­vi­sor, In­sta­gram, Flickr, MyS­pace and an over­whelm­ingly large bunch did. Twit­ter’s net­ted some 8 per­cent of Ki­wis – about 0.8 per­cent of the es­ti­mated world­wide user base. Of course, only 200 mil­lion world­wide with ac­counts are re­ported to use it ac­tively and Twit­ter ac­knowl­edges many sit in the back­ground, surf­ing con­tent lists.

And Ki­wis, es­pe­cially lo­cal com­pa­nies with global as­pi­ra­tions, work­forces and net­works, aren’t just tweet­ing other Ki­wis.

On his re­cent visit to New Zealand, for­mer Ama­zon data sci­en­tist An­dreas Weigend said the game com­pa­nies should be play­ing is get­ting other peo­ple to talk about them and their stuff, not try­ing to talk to peo­ple di­rectly.

In this world the quaint no­tion of de­mo­graph­ics fades. How do you know what your slice of the pop­u­lace wants to read?

So­cial net­works were built for peo­ple to talk to each other, so busi­nesses have to com­mu­ni­cate at in­di­vid­ual level with a per­son­al­ity and a voice where value is earned. But when users seem on one hand will­ing to share ev­ery­thing from what they ate for din­ner to who they ate it with and why – and on the other in­dig­nant at in­va­sions of online pri­vacy – ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion is a del­i­cate bal­ance.

The two edges of the so­cial sword get su­per­sized when you’re a startup. We’re told its beauty lies in try­ing lots of things and learn­ing what works, for no or lit­tle cost. That’s true, but as more peo­ple and chan­nels spring up online, the im­pact we need to make gets big­ger and the small ef­forts amount to lit­tle. To learn faster, founders and com­pa­nies with min­i­mal staff need to do more. But if you get it right, so­cial is the quick way to early val­i­da­tion.

There’s still bang for buck, but there’s no sub­sti­tute for a good prod­uct or ser­vice.

Now we’re sit­ting in our liv­ing rooms look­ing at ev­ery screen from TV to tablet, us­ing so­cial with other me­dia can be lu­cra­tive.

And the re­ports of email’s death at the hands of so­cial have been greatly ex­ag­ger­ated – the two can work in happy tan­dem. That’s why eggs from many bas­kets make a smart omelette.

The in­ex­orable march of so­cial fa­tigue and new play­ers frac­tur­ing the mar­ket mean over-re­liance is a dan­ger­ous thing.

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