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Social media strategy is not all black and white…

July 27, 2011



Community Management is a funny thing. I work very closely with Community Managers and advocate everything they do – but having a business background and qualifications – compounded with having worked in operations oriented roles – I always chuckle at the dichotomy of having roles that are largely ‘fluff’ (as the company founder of my current employer would say), in an environment of checks, balances, accountability, and specific, tangible deliverables in business.

Now, this isn’t yet another blog about determining the ROI of social media – there’s no question that if you do it right, you build relationships, which in turn deliver you the end result.

I’m more fascinated by the quickly growing arena which recognises that there is still a lost magical art in building those relationships that is so hard to define and put into clearly defined boxes. It’s part of why small business owners still don’t understand why they should use social media – because if it doesn’t get my phone ringing, then why bother? …Is what they’re most likely to say. It’s part of why we hear and see so many social media experts, who don’t really understand much about the space beyond having a strategy that includes some combination of Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter. DO me a favour and ask one of those guys about the data management and insights strategy that sits underneath and they’ll rarely be able to transition a conversation about relationships into one of social business techniques – which is why companies like IBM are way ahead in the social business space.

Any one of us that has ever tried to discuss social media with a senior exec or to a business owner knows that unless we can clearly define the tangibles, draw a process map and provide specific rules that account for every occurrence and accountability – that we’ll face an uphill battle to get it across the line.

I’ve actually lost business deals on social media strategy because our strategists weren’t able to provide an accountable list of every single possibility and response that might occur if the organization was to ‘go social’. Amazing to think – but those same organisations, much later on, are now blazing ahead with their social profiles, having finally come to the realization that they had to start somewhere, and they couldn’t predict or process map everything.

That said, there’s a clear need for measurable utility in social media. Being ‘social’ is nice to have, and the only utility that most social networks have found so far is to pump advertising at people, which is a win-lose situation (the consumer wins because they have a social space, but lose because they get ads they don’t want, while the businesses win by pumping ads at people, and lose because the people don’t want them).

Google+ and others are clearly on the path to changing that, and integrating some real utility back into social networks Just imagine what Google+ will look like when they integrate their business products and special offers!

The crew I work with at Community Engine are passionate about utilitous social media too, and we’re working hard to get a pilot off the ground to do exactly that – provide usable tools that people and organisations can use to run their business more effectively – while building and retaining the customer relationship – without impeding on the ‘personal space’ of any consumer.

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Here’s hoping.


From → Business, Technology

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