Don’t just stand there…….

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Picture courtesy of Kenny Maths

 

 

One of the frustrations I have with social media is the term itself. A lot has been said and written about the concept and the term. SM is recognised as having the potential to positively contribute to a whole range of business areas, from customer acquisition to loyalty building, customer service, collaboration and PR. This is part of the problem for some people. They can’t categorise it, put it in a box, or understand it in relation to other ‘media’.

 

This is the nub of the issue for me. Social Media is a misnomer. I’m by no means the first to say this, but it bears repeating. When we think of ‘media’ we think of vehicles or channels through which we can send ‘our messages’. It’s surprising how many brands’ Facebook pages are just a means of them sending out messages about special offers to the limited number of fans they have managed to attract.

 

Is there an alternative? Well some may say drop the word ‘media’ but that probably provides different problems to overcome, from the point of view of comprehension and budget allocation (most, if not all clients reallocate SM budgets from other media). Does Social Networking do it? It helps to describe what’s going on, and in that sense is valuable, and helps identify that this is a medium where attention can not easily (or wisely) be bought – it is earned. But maybe it feels a little bit more of a challenge to brand owners, than an opportunity.

 

As Faris Yakob points out in his post here, the term is already suffering from some wear out due to its misuse.

 

There are some good points in this short presentation of his

Two stand out for me. 1. His description/explanation of SM as “people doing stuff that creates conversations and relationships online”.
This is interesting in that there are 2 equally valid interpretations of this:

 

“people doing stuff online that creates conversations and relationships”, or

 

“people doing stuff, that creates online conversations and relationships “. 

The former may lead us to see SM as separate and standalone channel, that is not necessarily integrated with a brand’s broader strategy. Something we have to be involved with or be present in.
The latter opens things up more. It recognises that online is both a place consumers are increasingly comfortable to engage in conversations and relationships. It’s also a place where we as brand’s have the opportunity to join in and (with a light touch) help shape some of those conversations. It also points to the fact that those conversations can be (and are often) shaped by what we do offline – whether that be a stand-out (or poor) TV ad, or great or bad, customer service, for example.
 

This leads us to the 2nd of Faris’ important points :

2. “I think the lesson we all learn, from the need to constantly feed social media without endlessly hawking our brands and ourselves – to constantly communicate as befits an always-on world – is that the best way to create content is to do awesome stuff in the world”.
That’s the challenge for clients and agencies. It’s no longer about producing ads, promotions, PR releases etc. It’s a fantastically exciting and challenging time that takes us into areas that we may not have hitherto felt comfortable. It’s a world in which theory and best practice is evolving on almost a daily basis; an area of communication where there are few things we can be absolutely certain of, except that there is no going back. Not everyone will want to grasp the nettle, and for those reluctant one’s its important that we talk in a way that helps them ‘get it’. For those that just don’t want to, maybe its best to just “be nice, and leave”.

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