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#Funnel12: Fighting the Social Media Fight

I found time to get along to the Funnel12 this week - a b2b Marketeers conference at the Australian Technology Park (run by National Media and eConsultancy - and sponsored by Silverpop).  I was mainly interesting in hearing my Brand Engagement mentor Nathan Freitas (@natespeak) who had flown in from San Francisco specially  to share his learnings after a couple of years running the brand engagement team for @salesforce.  I learnt a great deal from him about how to engage customers and stakeholders on Twitter and it's worth popping by this blog post at the Salesforce Down Under Blog to see his presentation.

However, the main take-out I got was not from Nathan on this occasion but from Keynote presenter Todd Wheatland (@ToddWheatland).  Todd provided a very confronting view of the modern marketeer - suffering from a heightened risk of irrelevance in the onset of a radically changing landscape and a fundamental power shift from the brand to the consumer.  His general proposition was that a combination of social media and big data were changing the very essentials of the marketing field and many weren't adapting or re-skilling with the result that they were failing their brands.

(It is frustrating that I can't find his presentation online anywhere and if anyone does know where it is, please leave it in the comments box because it isn't the bleak future - and possible salvation - of the marketing profession I wanted to focus on - but he made excellent points about it.)

But it was his perspective on recent news events and how they played out on social media that interested me most.  First he looked at the recent Gaza confrontation and how the Israeli Defence Force had employed social media so aggressively and how they took the fight online (worth reading this article here at The Atlantic for more detail).  In a quite groundbreaking move, the IDF announced their assault on Hamas in Gaza on Twitter, and kept the world up to date with their view of how the conflict was progressing.  Todd pondered how armies traditionally waged the propaganda war - information control and more recently "embedding" journalists within the army.  But with the Israeli side of things rarely getting much sympathy in the media, they had obviously decided that taking the fight Social was a great way to portray their point of view without the media filter - using Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest to great effect to render their perspective to whomever would listen with greater clarity than they had traditionally received from the world press.

Obviously Middle East conflict is an extreme view, but this mirrors entirely my attitude to modern PR, as I articulated in this blog post explaining why I have focussed as a PR professional entirely on Social Media.

Further, Todd reflected on @BarackObama's recent re-election and the part Social Media played in that.  I recently made my own points about this election on my personal blog; but had not thought more specifically about the Democratic strategy with regard to Social purely.  Todd made the important observation that political campaigns now no longer focus their Social campaigns on battling in the marginals, instead focussing on "the base" - core supporters.  By galvanising the base on Social and providing them with the quality content they need to fight their own personal campaign (including the most tweeted photo ever, above), you create a vast army of activists who will propagate your message for you - on a voluntary basis!  This equally mirrors the conclusions I've come to recently about what I've clumsily called the "Amplification Cohort".

While the Gaza rocket war and the US Presidential Election seem a million miles away from your own communications campaigns, there are profound lessons here about the power of social media to convey a message with clarity and effectiveness.  So finally, whatever the subject matter or market place, Todd's final pointers are of great value:

"It's not about you" + "Don't promote, educate" + "Make your customers heroes" = winning the Social Fight.