Do you believe in social media?

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Computer and globe montageWhen I spoke at the PRSA-CVC Social Media Conference last fall, I told my audience, “You can’t engage in social media for the sake of doing so.”  To my audience, the majority of whom were there because they lacked experience with but felt pressured to engage in social media, this statement probably seemed bizarre.  As though I were implying that you don’t have to jump on the SM band wagon.

A few months later, I realize that my statement was a bit more accurate than I initially thought.  With SM, there is virtually nothing to be gained by going through the motions.  Having made what I am sure some will perceive as an incredulous statement, I think it is important for companies to understand the value of SM before engaging in it.

Facebook

While I was undoubtedly one of the last in my generation to buy into this phenomenon, there is tangible value to connecting through Facebook.  Brands can engage consumers in conversations, provide value-added content and even cyber-stalk their competitors.

Now, for those who have invested in consumer research and are certain that their audience does not consist of Facebook users, do NOT establish a fan page because you think it is the cool thing to do.  There is no value to be gained.  Why not take that as an opportunity to speak about what your brand has done to more effectively reach its audience instead?  And, if you represent a brand whose mission or ethics statement goes against Zuckerberg’s new privacy policy, by all means seize the opportunity to speak to this point.  Don’t let your customers assume that you are simply resistant to social media when you have legitimate reasons for not engaging on Facebook.

Twitter

Now is the time for me to profess my love of Twitter.  While I use other social media, Twitter reigns supreme in my world.  Perhaps it is because my patience level can only tolerate certain things in 140-character doses.  Or maybe it is because I can easily sneak in a few tweets amidst a jam-packed schedule.

From a business perspective, what better way to leak a steady stream of news and provide tidbits of information which motivate consumers to click through to your website?  For web based businesses, it seems logical that this, among other SM tools, would likely have more value (and direct benefit) that traditional media.  But for a solopreneur who can only handle a very small book of business and would have difficulty attracting followers amongst its niche market, perhaps Twitter isn’t the solution.  Just because your friend works for a consumer goods company and has great success with Twitter doesn’t mean it is right for your business, which could not be more opposite.

Blogs

Clearly, I am an advocate of these.  Blogs allow for more in-depth analysis, give the opportunity to take a stand on an issue and build a thorough case for your position and offer readers a wide variety of content to choose from.

As a potential mouthpiece for your brand, blogs can be a bit controversial.  You never know who is going to leave a comment, let alone what they are going to say.  (They do, however, have tools where you can approve comments before they post – who doesn’t like a little extra safeguard now and then?)  As a company, the first question to ask is whether or not you can (realistically) keep your blog content fresh and relevant.  A blog that is updated twice each year doesn’t stand much of a chance when it comes to attracting a loyal base of readers.

In the rare instance that your brand does not have a website and doesn’t engage with its consumers online, I cannot imagine that SM is the first place you should be looking to make your online impression.  With any of the above tools, or the many other SM platforms that exist, the first thing to assess is what your brand can gain from becoming involved.  The second is to assess what resources you can allocate to this new venture.  Lastly, do not let anyone sell you a SM plan if you firmly believe SM offers your company or brand no value.  If you don’t believe in it, it is unlikely you will ever see the value in it.  If you don’t believe, don’t engage — it’s that simple.

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  • http://twitter.com/tjdietderich TJ Dietderich

    Agreed, agreed, AGREED. I have had clients in the past who think they want my help in diving into social media, but after I speak to them, it's clear their goals are not going to be met in that space. It doesn't help that they don't have the time, energy, or interest in it that's necessary to make a it a successful endeavor. I can explain the value until I'm blue in the face, but if they don't want that kind of value, then it's a waste of everyone's time.