Social Media Influential

Big Truck courted the small crowd of online influences and members of the media in Oklahoma City. Read more: http://newsok.com/social-media-influential/article/3563192#ixzz1KzB2lQii

BY MIKE KOEHLER | NewSok.com

Big Truck courted the small crowd of online influences and members of the media in Oklahoma City. Read more: http://newsok.com/social-media-influential/article/3563192#ixzz1KzB2lQii

I’m writing this from Oklahoma City, the 76th-most socially networked town in the country.

What, you didn’t know? The social networking city rankings are out, thanks to the numbers crunchers at Men’s Health Magazine, of all places.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Men’s Health, especially if I need 18 easy steps to get jaw-dropping power abs. But this latest report card about how good the metros of the U.S. are at social networking makes my head hurt.

Some online sites have given the report some kudos, based on how Men’s Health was able to dig up and quantify the information. “The list … is as much a study of how to find this information as it is a valid assessment of which city has the bragging rights,” writes Mashable.com‘s Charlie White in his take on the report.

While the numbers may be right — starting with LinkedIn and Facebook users per capita — I think what gets lost in the story (not to mention its letter grades. D-plus? Ugh!) is the main appeal of social media, especially in business.

Influence.

Men’s Health built part of its study on similar research done by B2B research firm NetProspex last fall, which also measured business people based on their social connectivity and reach across the networks. Oklahoma City came staggering across the finish line there as well, ranked 46th out of 50 cities.

Now do I think Oklahoma City and other Midwestern burgs need to leapfrog over Seattle, Silicon Valley and Austin? No, obviously social media is more mainstream in all of those places. But that’s precisely my point.

In cities where social media is less adapted by the mainstream, but used by the first-adapter and decision-making crowd across a smaller geographical space, it can be more influential than it may be in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago.

Consider the case of Big Truck Tacos. Adopting an aggressive social media marketing strategy, Big Truck courted the small crowd of online influences and members of the media in Oklahoma City. The result was standing room-only crowds at the restaurant, nearly 16,000 Facebook fans and a victory in Food Network‘s $10,000 online contest to name the nation’s top food truck.

Social media engagement and influence, indeed, even from a city in the low 40s.

Companies looking for an online edge shouldn’t worry about the rankings Men’s Health comes up with in its lab (when it’s not conducting research on squat thrusts). Instead it needs to trust in the ability of small die-hard followers (Tribes, as marketing guru Seth Godin calls them) to provide online influence and advocacy.

That’s what will separate the cities where social media works and where it’s just another thing to do on your way to your fancy skyscraper.

Oh wait, we’ve got one of those, too.

Koehler, of Oklahoma City, is president and chief strategist of Smirk New Media.