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Twinterview: Walter Pike on social media in business

Read time 3min 20sec

Digital Marketing academy founder and consultant Walter Pike does not believe in social media. He believes going social has very little to do with media, and is much more about a complete change in business mindset.

Pike will speak at ITWeb's inaugural Social Media Summit, in mid-August, but I caught up with him on Twitter for a sneak peek at what he had to say on the subject:

ITWeb: Hi Walter. Thanks for joining us. In the past, you have said you dislike the term "social media". Why is this?

Walter Pike: “Social media” implies that it's merely another channel and has encouraged shallow thinking. It's actually a new era.

ITWeb: You're a big advocate of "marketing in the social era" versus "social media marketing". What's the difference?

Pike: If you think about a new era, different ways ideas spread (brands = ideas), you are not tempted to run social promo. You really need to examine the established marketing paradigm and challenge it - much of it has been undermined.

ITWeb: And what are brands actually doing in social media at the moment?

Pike: In many ways, they are merely extending their messaging - talking to an audience, not thinking about how ideas spread from person to person, so are not utilising the power of what social tech has released. They are also using it as a complaints centre and as a broadcast transmitter.

ITWeb: “Talking to” as opposed to? Talking with?

Pike: In a way - actually, it's not understanding what happens, even after you talk with...

ITWeb: What should companies be doing instead?

Pike: Understanding how the idea is going to spread, and facilitating, not controlling, the spread. Finding ways to make it easy for people to share ideas.

ITWeb: Should all companies use social media?

Pike: All companies should understand the social era, the impact of clients and employees. So, should all use social media? No.

ITWeb: What should companies think about before taking the plunge into using social media?

Pike: They should ask themselves whether they are prepared to change their core philosophy about operating in the social era.

ITWeb: That sounds rather intimidating! Can you give an example of one such change a company might make?

Pike: Yes, it is, on the surface, questions of control, of organisation, of collaboration, of co-ordination. These are often questions of organisational change - of being able to operate in a different era.

ITWeb: So it basically comes down to being “agile” (oh, don't we love that buzz word?)

Pike: No, not agile - that's just a buzz word. Think like a farmer or an artist, not like a production line.

For one thing, understand that new employees treat Facebook as a resource - part of how they live and work - you can't block it.

ITWeb: Oh, that makes sense! Now, since we're here, let's talk about Twitter - how useful do you think it is for business?

Pike: I think it's very useful; it has been the most useful of any communications technology to my business. It just depends how you think.

ITWeb: How do you tell who is influential on Twitter. Is it more than just the number of followers?

Pike: Biggest myth in social is how important the number of followers are, you just can't say is 10 better than 10 000. That's broadcast/audience thinking - what is important is the role the individual plays in the community.

ITWeb: Thanks for your time and for sharing your insight.

Pike: Greatest pleasure - will expand at the ITWeb conference - more to say!

You can hear more from Walter Pike at ITWeb's inaugural Social Media Summit, in August.

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