All Media Is Social Media
"Social Media," a buzz word for several years, has resurged with platforms like Twitter. What is Social Media? Broadly defined, Social Media is any form of interactive communication. Under a more narrow interpretation, Social Media is an Internet arena where people share, rather than sell. Purists do not consider radio, television, conversations and daily activities to be social media. Regardless of the definition, all media has the potential to become Social Media.
Becoming Social Media Star
One way to become a Social Media star is to work hard, for a long time, investing a lot of money and be lucky enough to originate an idea the rest of the Internet finds clever. A faster way to Social Media stardom is to make a mistake. Social Media is often served with a side of Schadenfreude, so the bigger the mistake the better. A recent example involves the firing of three local radio personalities from KNXO radio. The situation involved on-air radio personalities who believed, incorrectly, that during a commercial break their profanity-laden tirade was not being broadcast. The novelty of the situation transformed it from "regular" media to Social Media overnight. The incident instantly became fodder for comments on Twitter and Facebook, as well as the subject of a YouTube video with over thirty thousand views. Obviously, it is preferable to define your corporate brand via Social Media before Social Media defines your brand.
Not "If," but "When"
If your company has not yet inadvertently become the subject of Social Media, you are either small, have nothing to do with the Internet, or you are simply not listening in the right places. Becoming the subject of Social Media is not bad. In fact, it is usually good. Good or bad it is important to know what is being said. If what is being said about your company on Social Media is good, leverage it. If it is bad, turn it around before it spins out of control.
The first item on your Social Media action plan should be do something. Social Media moves quickly. If you wait, it is unlikely your solution will overtake the problem. All media is social. Act like everything your company does is potential fodder for Social Media. It is. At its most basic, your Social Media plan should include monitoring your company's name on social media sites like Twitter for potential problems. You should implement a Google Alert to email you whenever something on the web mentions your company. You may also wish to select some blogs which discuss your industry and set up an RSS feed to deliver recent posts directly to your computer. Addressed early, many potential problems can be converted into opportunities to impress the online community with your attentive customer service.
A passive approach to monitoring Social Media should be a part of every business. The next step, proactively producing social media, is not right for each company. The last thing you want to do is create problems. If you decide to enter the Social Media field, your company should have a written policy outlining your company's expectations of employees engaging in Social Media and other online activities. Simply opening this line of communication can avoid future headaches.
Friend or Foe
Many companies use Social Media to develop strong ties with customers. Others leverage Social Media to monitor the competition or protect intellectual property. The key is to be sure that what you do in Social Media will have the intended effect. Social Media leverages your voice. You can use it to increase the reach of your brand or destroy years of goodwill overnight.
Make a Plan
Develop a game plan before embarking upon any course of action. A wildly successful Social Media business model for your competitor may not fit you. More importantly, Social Media customers are savvy. They do not want a Social Media clone of your competitor. Start slowly. Use Social Media to develop your company's unique voice. Use Social Media to listen to your customers and exceed their expectations. Soon you will these ideas seeping offline and into your business. Done right, Social Media will make your business bigger AND better.
HT: Christine Branstad, Esq.