Becoming a Data-Based Business: The Medium is the Message

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Becoming a Data-Based Business: The Medium is the Message

Social Media Messaging

What is Your Message?

The primary foundation of any social-media participation is to first evaluate your business and your message. Your message is of significant importance. It communicates who you or your business is and the value that you bring to the marketplace. Your message is the hook that brings people to your website, makes them curious to know more, and persuades them to take action. The development of your message is the first step to developing your social-media campaign. Your message is what makes you unique, and it communicates the benefit you provide. The message does not change.

The Medium is the Message

Marshall McLuhan was a visionary in the technology space. Just about any student in media has heard his famous phrase, “the medium is the message,” which was originally applied to the three big mediums, radio, TV, and print. Today, we have innumerable mediums. More than ever, marketers need to understand the implications of how messages are received.

“The medium is the message” is the observation that the same message will be interpreted in different ways depending upon the medium through which people receive the message. One of the earliest, most famous examples of this was in the early days of television in the presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Those who watched the debate on television overwhelmingly thought that Kennedy won the debate, because Nixon appeared tired and worn. Kennedy was young, energetic, and played well to the television audience. To those who listened to the debate on radio, Nixon was overwhelmingly perceived as the winner, because he was well reasoned, factual, and engaging.

Two groups of people received the same content but through two very different mediums. One was auditory driven, the other visually driven, and both mediums inherently affected the judgment of the audience, depending upon how they received the information of the debate.

A particular message, with specific intent and careful messaging, can be properly interpreted or casually misinterpreted simply based on the medium through which it is transmitted. In terms of social media, a message that works well in one medium may not be translating well or be received well in another medium.

Target a Your Ideal Medium

Once you have your message, the next step is to determine the medium that best fits your message and your resources. The vast majority of companies that have become famous for their social-media savvy focused on a primary medium when getting started, rather than all available mediums. By focusing on a single medium that best communicates your message and then using the rest of the social-media world to support that message and medium, you can contain your marketing to a focused, supported, and directed approach. The type of business you are determines the best medium for you.

The examples of those businesses that have created amazing results in social media are well known and recounted as hero stories in many marketing venues. These are the examples that marketers see and hear and then strive to repeat when they enter the world of social media. Keep in mind, though, that for each success story there are thousands of failed attempts that are not publicized or published as warnings. Only the lucky few who have figured out the magical social-media formula are the ones canonized for their originality.

Your Ideal Medium Effectively Communicates Your Message

Each social medium carries with it an intrinsic depth of interpretation. Audiences apply different filters and interpretations based on the type of media and the types of messages that are broadcast using that media. Simply put, what works on YouTube doesn’t always work on Twitter. What works on your blog may not work on Facebook. For your business, think of your message and your audience and the important aspects of how you can present your business and how your customers will be part of the community. Is your business best at presenting a visual or an auditory message? Does your business rely on an immediate news cycle and dispersing information to as many people as quickly as possible? Then Twitter would be an ideal choice, because blogging may be too slow.

Video-sharing sites such as YouTube tend to be a “see-to-believe” medium for businesses that have a very visual product. Product demonstrations, stunts, and comedy work very well in this medium. Videos that show processes, such as manufacturing, how-to, and other types of instructional and educational videos are also effective.

In terms of networking/microblogging–type social media, consider that on Facebook, the pace of communication is slower compared to Twitter, which is an immediate or real-time conversation. Users of Facebook spend long amounts of time updating their profiles and catching up on their friend’s news – a much more social activity rather than a news or commerce destination, as some advertisers have realized.

Know Thyself – The Start of an Successful Social Media Campaign

The companies that are successful with their online marketing and social media are the ones that understand themselves the best. As Socrates said, to “Know thyself” is the beginning of knowledge. Knowing your business, your resources, your message will be the beginning of a successful campaign. Logically, the best media to use will be the one that logically fits your business and your resources. Rather than trying to fit your business to all social media, find the media that best fits you and your strategy. Then do it right, invest in it and make it successful.

I love it when others get “the message” according to the medium: Fast Company: Without The Right Message, Twitter Is No Better For Your Brand Than A Fax Machine

Related Articles:
Making Your Own Trends
FaceBook Marketing: Would Your Lawyer Agree to This?
The Importance of Context in Content

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About the Author:

Matt has taught Google employees how to understand and use Google Analytics, consulted with Experian on how to present data, developed online marketing training for both Proctor and Gamble and Johnson & Johnson and presented analytics methodologies to Disney, ABC & ESPN. As founder of SiteLogic, Matt teaches marketers how to create measurable and profitable strategic marketing plans.

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