BY EMMA HALL
Digital brand builder Paul Barron stood in front of social media aficionados and restaurant and hospitality industry folks in Lola's Room, above the Crystal Ballroom. He surveyed the crowd that included award-winning Tweeters and social media brand developers, there to attend a talk hosted by the Social Media Club of Portland.
"Media as we know it is over," Barron said.
Barron, who runs DigitalCoCo, described the wave of the future, in Web Era 4. He explained that too much focus is being put on the here and now with social media, when really we need to be one step ahead to prepare for the future of the web.
"Experts say 'Just engage your customers,' but [social media] is about so much more," said Barron. "It's really about understanding the customer."
The social web is controlled by bloggers and new media experts, but soon that control will shift. Consumers want you to understand who they are, Barron explained.
"If we don't get into engaged content components, that is what we will miss," Barron said.
Barron referenced the recent Old Spice campaign by Wieden+Kennedy as an example of branded entertainment, a step in the right direction but still not quite engaged content. "We need to engage on the next level," Barron said.
A video that Barron showed as an example of preliminary engaged content was the "Every Life Has a Story" video by Chick-fil-A.
Barron also gave the audience homework of five books to learn more on the subject.
- REWORK by Jason Fried and Heinemeier Hansson
- Tribes by Seth Godin
- Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead
- Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
- The Ghost Writer by Robert Harris
The Social Media Club of Portland also reached out to find a local Portland hospitality or restaurant business that was ahead of the curve in regard to engaging customers through social media. The winner was the Jupiter Hotel. They have created an iconic brand maven out of Jupiter Lily, a mannequin that resides in the hotel's lobby. Jupiter Lily tweets updates that often include cheeky sexual innuendos. She also stars in the hotel's monthly e-mail blast that features a comic book-style story. The hotel's innovative use of social media has garnered them a loyal following who appreciate the change from typical business tweets that may just tell them about room rates or special deals.
That style may not work for every business out there, but there are lessons to be learned from its success.
Emma Hall is web editor for Oregon Business.