Today, I spoke to Beverly Macy, who is the co-author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing, the CEO of Gravity Summit, and a UCLA Social Media Instructor. In this interview, Beverly talks about why real-time social media marketing is important, reveals a few case studies from her book, and more. In 2009, Beverly was a regular contributor to this blog.

What is real-time social media marketing and why is it important?

Real-Time social media marketing is a new connected form of communication that happens directly with consumers, partners, stakeholders and others on social platforms. It is happening NOW – anyplace, anywhere in the world. In the book we call it the NOW Lens. The case stories we highlight exemplify how this is playing out in corporations, non-profits, government agencies, small businesses and rising companies.

What is your favorite case study of a company doing business in real-time?

It’s hard to pick a favorite, of course. First of all, we call them case ‘stories’, rather than case studies for a specific reason. All our exclusive case stories depict a transformative journey and we found it best to let each company and organization simply tell their story. We want to remain authentic to the conversational nature of social media. A couple of highlights that stand out:

  • American Red Cross. We talk about 1 Tweet turning in to $33 million dollars…and it’s absolutely true. In fact, I was at the State Department this past week in DC meeting with Katie Dowd, New Media Director, and she told me the number actually grew to $40 million. That’s a stunning figure. And social media made it happen.
  • Another fantastic story is how the Orange County Transportation Authority decided early on to use UStream to conduct public meetings for citizens who couldn’t get to the meeting in person. They never imagined that other transportation agencies from Russia, Eastern Europe, and around the US would be tuning in. That’s social change in real-time!

What are the consequences if you don’t act in real-time?

What’s fantastic about being able to operate in real-time is the ability to get into the granular levels of consumer conversation, develop engagement strategies that mirror the tone and help guide direction, and then identify tactics to support brand enthusiasts. Certainly, there is continued value in taking a cautious approach in some cases, especially for highly regulated industries, etc. But waiting too long, not being nimble, and being too cautious could result in waking up one day and realizing the world is speaking a language you know nothing about. It’s important to jump in, fail fast, fail forward, and keep moving.

What tools can help you manage your social media presence in real-time?

When we look at the current social platforms we see people migrating to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn for professional purposes; geo-location platforms like Gowalla and Foursquare; blogs, podcasts, etc. The names and functionalities are almost not that important – what’s important is to know what you want to accomplish; who your audience is and what’s important to them. The case stories in the book give a great overview of a number of tools and the rationale behind how a company chose the integrated mix that works for their brand messaging and positioning. Personal social presence is the same.

What made you want to write this book?

Great question! As you know, I am the CEO of Gravity Summit Real-Time Social Media conferences. In 2009 we did 5 events – UCLA, UCI, Stanford, Harvard, and New York City. It turns out that McGraw-Hill representatives were in attendance at the NYC event and my (soon to be ) co-author, Teri Thompson was also in attendance. Teri began a conversation with McGraw-Hill and the topic of a book about our journey came up. One thing led to another and we found ourselves with a book deal.

I was excited to not only document my journey but continue the case study teaching method I use at UCLA Extension and highlight the amazing stories I had heard throughout the year.  I am very fortunate that Teri agreed.  In addition, Teri’s background in entertainment marketing gave a fresh perspective as well.  We were able to write the book we’d like to read and hope others feel that way as well.

Beverly Macy is the co-author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing, the CEO of Gravity Summit, and a UCLA Social Media Instructor. Gravity Summit’s mission to educate is also the foundation of Beverly’s role as teacher of Executive Marketing courses for the UCLA Business and Management Extension program, where she was recognized as “Distinguished Instructor of 2010” by the dean of the program. Beverly is also a respected professional speaker and consultant with senior executives on real-time social media marketing for global non-profits, leading government agencies and Fortune 500 such as Toyota, The Walt Disney Company, Xerox Corporation, United Healthcare, Qualcomm, and Boeing. Macy also spent 14 years at Xerox Corporation, where she received top honors for sales and marketing efforts.