Tackling social media

A lot of companies misuse and abuse social media. They know they have to do something. They’ve been to one of those crazy overpriced social media conferences and talked to a few agencies and vendors. They keep reading scary stories about it in the papers. They are exposed to the risk of last mover disadvantage and they know it.

So they jump in to tackle social media with both feet off the ground and their studs showing.  Little wonder their customers show them the red card.

So where did they go wrong?

They invited a bunch of senior bods from the Communications, PR, Advertising and Marketing teams to form a squad.  All good people – top performers and experts in their chosen fields – after all, this is important stuff.

The only problem is none of them were active users of social media.

And so they kicked off by applying tried and tested old world communications values to a medium they didn’t really get. They applied military style planning to detailed and time bound communications campaigns. Not realising that command and control does not work in the world of social media, the downward spiral of selling and spamming began.

All they had to do was leverage the existing expertise and enthusiasm of the growing band of natural born social mediarites already on the payroll. The people who understand that social media is not a broadcast channel but a place where people converse and create meaningful relationships.

They should have listened to self-styled Community Evangelist at LinkedIn, Mario Sundar, who made the following observation two years ago:

“Your employees, starting with your executives, influence your company’s employment brand more than any advertising campaign that you will ever craft. They do so through their blog, word-of-mouth sites like Twitter, and of course on LinkedIn, where they build their “professional brand” in ways that are intrinsically tied to your company’s brand.”

They do this through natural authentic daily interactions with their personal and professional networks. They don’t sell. They don’t spam. They don’t follow orders. You cannot script them. All you need to do is allow them the freedom to express themselves and allow their natural advocacy to shine through.

These are the people who should be involved in formulating and delivering your company’s social media strategy.

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