The Tribal Connection of Social Media

Recently I have been working on a new product launch for FaceTime Communications profiling their new Unified Security Gateway 4, which includes a number of new security and compliance features to secure and archive social media conversations in the enterprise. This forum is not a place for a client pitch, but there are aspects of the problem that USG 4 solves that are worth noting, because they highlight the real value of social networking.

The problem that all organizations face is that their IT departments are losing control of network access to social media. Employees are accessing Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, from their work computers. Okay, that’s not really new, but how they are using these tools has been changing. Although some malingerers are playing Farmville or posting family photos on company time, more professionals are turning to public social media tools because they are the best way to reach prospective customer, partners, and coworkers. Even in heavily regulated industries, like banking and financial services, more users are ignoring the compliance risks (which are considerable) of using uncontrolled social media sites to connect with their customers.

Why would you “waste” company time on Facbook and Twitter? The answer is simple, because that’s where their customers are.

FaceTime’s CEO Kailash Ambwani points out that social media is tribal by nature. People tend to gravitate to locations where they can hang out with their peers; with people like themselves who share a connection. That connection can be common interests, a shared neighborhood, and even a shared level of education and income. So if I am promoting a new portfolio package or real estate opportunity to you, Mr. Facebook Follower, then I want you to tell all your friends, because chances are they will be just as interested because they share the same traits, including values and income. You all belong to the same tribe.

I had an interesting conversation with a client in a strategy meeting yesterday. We were talking about using social media as a means to sell regional services, in this case bank products. His argument was that you wouldn’t use Facebook or Twitter to sell to a regional market, like a town or neighborhood, because the Web is global. That argument fails to acknowledge the phenomenon of social media tribes. People will connect with others in their neighborhood or region because they are part of the tribe.  Hence emergence of services like Yelp! and the success of regional businesses who have followers on Twitter and Facebook, like the Korean BBQ Taco Truck who has 64,000 people following his movements around Los Angeles on Twitter.

So when you are thinking about your social media marketing strategy, don’t underestimate the power of the Tribe. Think global, but tweet locally! Your neighbors are surely watching.

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