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Beverly Macy is a widely sought after speaker on the topic of real-time social media. She is the CEO of Gravity Summit, LLC, a leading social media advisory firm, and she teaches executive marketing courses for the UCLA Business and Management Extension Program. In addition, she is the author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing and a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post. Blogging Out Loud talked to Macy last week about the dawn of social media and what it means for marketers now.
You teach social media — a fairly new communication platform — for UCLA Extension. How did your course come to be?
In 2001, I began teaching at the Extension, and it was in 2006 that I saw a shift in our client base. I had a client ask me to research blogging and podcasting for them, and it really opened my eyes because there was a lot going on. For instance, Mayo Clinic had a podcast on iTunes. That was really revolutionary in 2005-6. In Aug. 2007, we launched one of the first social media marketing courses on a college campus at UCLA Extension. It focused on MySpace, blogging and podcasting, and a little about YouTube. We really knew something was happening because on a Saturday in August we had 75 people show up at 7:30 a.m. It was a tipping point. From there, obviously history took its course.
Who should take a course in social media?
I’ll tell you who does take it: individuals interested in personal branding. If you don’t have a digital presence, you’re not going to be heard. Also, product marketing managers. Who I wish took the class are chief marketing officers. I think there’s a huge gap between the line manager who’s getting educated and the people who control the money. They don’t even know what it means to “tweet.” I’m on a mission to educate the corporate office; the people who are making the decisions are not as educated as they need to be. My class launched 5 years ago, and now people are finally saying: “Maybe we should learn more about Tumblr.” Tossing up a Facebook page is not a social strategy.
What do you see is the biggest challenge facing social media users in marketing, and why?
There are two challenges. One is that the openness of social is often appalling to most companies. The idea that their consumer can talk back and have an opinion is intimidating, until they realize they can be guiding the conversation. That conversation is happening whether you’re in it or not.
The second is the ROI. How do we prove to the CEO that social has any value? How do they know if they are getting a bang for their buck? We’re beginning to have tools for measurement, because there’s a lot of great information out there, but there’s not a simple metric. The reason advertising works is people agree on the metrics. In social, we can prove it, but we all have to agree on those metrics. There are serious people thinking about analytics, which gives the industry hope.
How do you manage your digital life?
There’s certainly profile fatigue, from a productivity standpoint. The concept of engagement is about community in the beginning. Then, it becomes: “Now what?” There are management tools like HootSuite and Tweetdeck for tracking and monitoring, but who’s going to help us figure the prediction? This is the next job of the McKinseys and Forresters of the world. They’re going to give us processes the enterprise can agree on. In the meantime, I stay current the “old-school” way, by going out there and checking into Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest streams.
I think the concept of location-based check-in will be fascinating — seeing where it goes. The exciting thing for the marketer is the data that sits underneath location-based social. How we get at the data and provide insight is the key. Managers want the “so-what.”
What do you want your students to take away from your course?
I’m not the person who says here are 5 tips for Facebook. I’m the person who says this is why you need to care. [Social media] is more strategic.
Businesses are realizing that social is sort of this new nervous system.
My social media class is not available online and I did that on purpose. I think there is huge value in being there in-person. I haven’t bought a newspaper or magazine in 5 years. I look at them digitally. All my new books are online, but I have hard copy books and I value hard copy books. I think television is going to go through a metamorphoses, and that Social TV is something to keep our eye on. The medium of broadcast is not finished by a long shot. I still rely on TV for information. I watch the local news, even though I can check the weather online. I also think radio and audio can be very relevant. And, of course, mobile is a new frontier. The way we consume information is increasing.
I do believe marketers should understand that social is one part of an integrated marketing plan. Don’t throw everything else away — make social complimentary.
“5 Questions For” is an occasional feature in which Blogging Out Loud interviews influential industry leaders on current and future marketing trends.