Social Media and Businesses, Really?

Social media. One of the most talked about concepts in our world today.  With the news, commercials, and celebrities talking about Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube all the time, it’s difficult not to talk about it.  Even the popular NBC show 30 Rock developed a show around a ficticious social networking site called “You Face” which aired this past Thursday evening.  Executive Jack Donaghy spends the show setting up his You Face account, eventually just to end up reconnecting with a high school crush.  The show hilariously pointed out all of the stereotypes surrounding social media, that it’s just a place for kids to talk or acting as a high school reunion for the older crowd.  With this being the predominate voice s socurrounding social media, it’s easy for people to be sceptical when a business gets involved even though it’s a very different concept for businesses.  Yes, the primary fuction is for a connection, but this connection looks a bit different than the personal connections we make.  Businesses connect with their customers somewhere inbetween personal and professional through social media, acting more as a publisher of valuable information that trying to hook up.

Businesses are entering a very critical time with respect to social media. The buzz words float around constantly, so if a company is not currently involved in some form of social media, be it a Facebook page, blog or Twitter account, they are now feeling the need to desperately catch up.  Often this catch up can cause more damage than taking it slow to develop a strategic and targeted digital media plan.  The pressure to get something “up and running” for your business will be strong, but don’t let it push you to where you sacrifice taking inventory of your current online activity, researching the proper tools for your business, bringing in an expert for sound advice (let’s face it. it never hurts to have a second pair of eyes looking at it.), and considering all risks involved.  The intention is not to scare you away from tapping into the many opportunities in the digital and social media world.  Rather, it’s a rational approach to this highly volatile atmosphere. 

grounswellIf you’re interested in getting into social media as a business endeavor, challenge yourself to really make an effort in “getting it.”  Pick up a good book on the subject. I highly recommend Groundswell by Forrester Research conributors Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.  They do a phenomenal job explaining the great shift in how we communicate today which ultimately changes the way companies interact with their customers.  Don’t think that just because kids do it, you think you can just figure it all out that quickly.  Really spend time developing an approach with clear goals, objectives, and measureables.  Otherwise, you’ll feel like you’ve just wasted your time.  Besides if you can’t measure something, how do you know it worked?  You’ve always got to have some way of ‘keeping score.’