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Friday, January 8, 2010

Rational Social Media

2009 was certainly the year social media took hold as a significant tool for marketers, and with the start of a new year, many “experts” are again trumpeting the merits of social media and forecasting the demise of traditional media and traditional public relations.

It seems everyone is talking about social media and discussing what services and tools to use, how to use them, why you should use them, etc. In fact, if you listened to all the advice out there, you would probably think that no matter who you are, whether an individual wanting to build a personal brand, or a large multinational corporation intent on communicating with customers, you should be using social media.

Fortunately, despite the fervor over social media, some sanity is beginning to show with rational thought – is social media really the most appropriate or best course of action? B2B Magazine for example, lists various reasons “When To Avoid Social Media.”

At 3Point, as excited as we are by the ongoing evolution of media and the availability of the many new channels of communications, we take the stance that social media is but one of the many tools available to engage, educate, empower and enrapture audiences. Marketers have always diligently planned advertising and public relations campaigns, picking the media in which to best present the latest and greatest to homemakers, Moms or avid golfers. This has not changed in the age of social media. The same due diligence is required to ensure a social media campaign meets the same criteria.

It is important not to lose sight of what is really important – are the communications activities achieving meaningful business objectives such as increasing sales and enhancing shareholder value. Just ad hoc Tweeting of opinion or establishing a generic corporate Facebook page will likely fail to achieve a meaningful response.

Here are some questions that need to be asked before any social media is applied:
· Who are we hoping to connect with?
· Is social media the best way to reach this audience?
· What kind of information is interesting to them?
· What other marketing and communications activities are planned and how does social
media integrate with them?
· What will be different in 3, 6, 12 months as a result of our social media efforts?
· What might go wrong? What expectations might people have of us?

With rational planning and measureable objectives in place, social media can be truly effective. Without, it can cause a company to waste time and resources, or worse still, actually cause harm to the company. Social media certainly can be beneficial; the real question is to what degree should it be deployed in the support of your other marketing efforts.

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