Is #SocialMedia for my company? Few Myths Debunked in Plain English

2011 A.D.

Admittedly, there is deafening noise surrounding companies on social media and how it is a must have in today’s digitally connected world. Partially true. I say that (and almost sticking my neck out on this one) because there is no gainsaying the democratization of the Internet that is taking shape with our without our consent. Time to wake up and smell the digital coffee – the rich aroma of people participation, the magical brew of authenticity and the myriad benefits to an organization’s health. Yes, not all that we hear about social media need be consumed at face value. A pinch of salt might help. Like security and insurance, principles of FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) could be at play in an attempt to sell you that “sexy social media solution”.

But that’s the other end of the spectrum. There are many, many organizations still grappling to decode the social media puzzle and wondering if there is any need to get “social” after all. Here’s an attempt to debunk some myths.

Legend:

WSCMB: what some companies may believe

APTBC: another perspective to be considered

WSCMB: Social media a passing fad, more about few tools and does not depict real behaviour

APTBC: Social media is less about tools, and more about meeting the needs of a changing society. Audiences at large (that includes practically every stakeholder of an organization) are keen to exploit the benefits of the internet (India internet users set to triple according to a recent report by Google – http://bit.ly/nDKgNC) to meet simple human needs – learn, share, collaborate, grow, create, etc. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have become indispensable companions as they serve these needs. Personally, I think theirs is a social re-engineering success (definitely in a positive way) backed by innovative technology principles.

WSCMB: I don’t think the time is right to leverage social media in our company

APTBC: It is important to understand that social media must not be viewed or approached as an independently strategy in itself. All social media endeavours must map back to the company’s business, marketing and communication goals. By this logic, there is always a right time to consider, study evaluate and deploy a structured social media campaign that supplements your research, marketing, sales and communication efforts. Considered by many as the bible of social media, The Cluetrain Manifesto (http://bit.ly/rc5yhq) fascinatingly written more than a decade ago, provides an excellent perspective of the impact of the Internet on businesses in the future, through its set of 95 theses put together by  Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger.

WSCMB: I am a B2B company, so rules of social media do not apply to me

APTBC: B2B companies are made up of human beings too with similar needs as that of any average modern consumer. Fundamentals of social media engagement would remain the same, though the tools may vary. Platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Slideshare, Klout, etc. provide excellent avenues for sharing knowledge and best practices, demystifying technologies, networking with peers and establishing thought leadership. Commonly ignored, Facebook too could be leveraged effectively in the B2B social media mix, beyond the obvious HR endeavours. Here’s a link (http://bit.ly/o7GEsR) that shares insights into the growing B2B social media acceptance & trends globally.

WSCMB: Social media is risky, it may open up channels of negative publicity and feedback

APTBC: Negative publicity on social media platforms is usually a reflection of mismatched expectations between an organization and its various publics. Earned media is an opportunity for companies to study customer grievances and address them through appropriate marketing, product innovation and customer relationship programs. In fact, social media provides a vent that must be converted to positive advocacy through real action. Social media tools can provide insights into these conversations. It is therefore important to follow the right steps – Listen, Prepare, Engage – to devise the social media campaign.

The above statements have been randomly chosen to reflect / address some of the more common myths or beliefs. We will continue to endeavour to share our learnings and thoughts.

The world is waking up and enjoying the Web’s democratization, influence and domination, and India is emerging as a powerful contributor in its latest avatar. Anna Hazare’s campaign stirred the imagination of a millions and bore testimony to the power of social media. I therefore refer to it as the era of 2011 A.D. (Anna-Domination).

Authored by Ashish Arora, Principal Consultant & India Digital Lead @ Text 100 India. You can follow him @contactashoo and / or write to him at ashish.arora@text100.co.in

Views expressed are personal.  

Image Source: http://bit.ly/nbgMgr

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