Sunday, March 28, 2010

Are You ‘Living’ or ‘Existing’ in Social Media?

For all the time and effort many businesses put into setting up in social media it is surprising that many could not answer to the question: “What next?”

For some, the answer is: “We’re here and that’s good enough.” To overcome that notion I’d suggest it’s important to know the difference between “existing” in social media and “living” in social media in four key ways:

1. Planning

Existing: The plan is simply to set up on various social media platforms just to be found. This “set up an outpost” thinking is all about making sure that when people do find you on a site such as Facebook or Twitter that they are “driven” to your own website.

Living: This type of planning takes into account where your customers, employees and suppliers already hang out in social media. It carefully chooses and prioritizes which platforms make sense for your business. It takes a long-term view.

2. Presences

Existing: These businesses on social media have one-dimensional pages on Facebook or Twitter accounts that have a schedule of broadcast messages about your company, your products or your clients. Even the avatar is a company logo or a product. These pages don’t feel like they are run by human beings you’d want to interact with – they’re not and you wouldn’t.

Living: These accounts are run by people … people who make it clear that while they work for a business they are also willing to engage with fans and followers. The messaging from these pages/accounts feels genuine. Visitors asking questions here will get a response.

3. Commitment

Existing: Businesses spend just enough time and resources to set up and maintain their presences. The employee who’s doing the work on behalf of the enterprises has had social media added to their list of responsibilities and likely has had little or no training.

Living: Companies who commit to social media start with a solid plan, follow through with professional training and alter work assignments to create time for daily social media participation. The expectation from the C-Suite down is that social media is as important, if not more important, to the company’s future than traditional marketing, sales and customer-relations efforts.

4. Relationships

Existing: What relationships? Seriously, businesses who are only in social media for what they can get out of it don’t really want to relate to the “unwashed masses” … they just want their money.

Living: The biggest reward for businesses living in social media will be the relationships they build – relationships with customers, employees, clients and, yes, even competitors. Relationship-building is what puts the “social” into social media. Businesses here will monitor social sentiment and profusely thank their promoters and work with their detractors to resolve issues. Ultimately this leads to others becoming your company’s biggest promoters.

So, are you merely “existing” in social media or are you “living” there? And what other ways would you suggest businesses get more from and put more in to social media?

Possibly related posts:
10 Commandments for Social Media
Just How Big Is Social Media?

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