Friday, May 22, 2009

10 Things You Can Do with Social Media and Some Common Perceptions

Here are 10 things you can do with social media:

• join a group or invite people to join a group
• post a news item or job to LinkedIn
• write a blog article
• tweet
• post a blog comment
• mine leads, find information
• read comments
• respond to comments
• post a video
• make connections with other people

In the last two years I’ve heard many objections to social media. Here are some common perceptions about using social media

• I won’t have time: it’s playtime; there’s no revenue opportunity; I don’t get excited about cost avoidance; I’ll be better off spending time on something else; sitting in front of a computer is for people with lots of free time; we don’t want to appear unresponsive
• My audience doesn’t use social media: e.g. Facebook is for kids; decision makers don’t use social media; CEOs and top executives don’t use Twitter
• I already communicate with my audience: people should meet face to face or communicate by phone; I use listserve and email
• It should be centralized; it is a function for the Marketing Communication team; it has to be monitored; there should be rules; we don’t want public criticism

No doubt in some situations there is an element of truth in each of these perceptions. Engaging in any activity means some time commitment. If it isn’t done well, there won’t be a worthwhile revenue opportunity. It’s true Linkedin is a more likely demographic for certain target audiences than Facebook at present. Certain interactions are more productive face to face and a corporate entity has to protect its brand identity and messaging.

The flip side to this is that all of these perceptions are also partially false. I’ve actually heard people who say that there’s no opportunity reverse course and say they fear they will be flooded with inquiries and won’t have time enough to respond. Being unresponsive can have consequences but social media is not a two way dialogue between the company and the group. Group members are relying on other group members to contribute and respond as well. A good practice would be to listen to what people are saying, facilitate the discussion and correct misperceptions. Plenty of busy CEOs, board members and top decision makers at the most prestigious organizations use Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook for personal and business reasons to stay in touch with colleagues, to follow developments in their field and to keep tabs on competitors. And no doubt meetings, email, telephone and traditional media are all important but as a matter of fact, they aren’t all really centralized under Marketing Communications. On top of that, communications about your company go on all the time between your customers and competitors without involvement or approval by your company. An online forum or group gives companies a chance to be part of the conversation.