Monday, 10 January 2011

Time to self improve your social media?

With the festivities well and truly behind us for yet another year, commitments to diet, detox and fitness are, for many of us, well under way (if not falling by the wayside). But in this digital age, does starting afresh mean more for most than a just new beauty regime or a closet clear-out?

2011 has already seen many of my friends centering their efforts for self-improvement around their digital activity - from resolute intentions to use Facebook more often, to the culling of tenuous contacts, friends and followers on social media sites.

So when Tom Fishbourne's cartoon of social media ghost towns popped into my inbox last week, I had to smile and wonder whether brands would be thinking the same way. 2010 will have seen countless businesses jump into social media head first, only to let it die a death; thus creating their own social media ghost towns. And with experts citing a negative social media experience far worse than no social media experience whatsoever, will brands take note and strive to self-improve their social media spaces?

The moral of the story is perhaps to beware of social media for social media’s sake – if a brand can add value to a community then it should probably be using social media. If it can’t, then it should probably think twice.

The other factor is of course resource. Businesses should not be fooled into thinking social media is a cost free marketing tool. The currency is time and to be interesting and relevant in real time, requires real investment. Businesses should be realistic about the amount of time their brands can devote - or be in danger of creating the next digital ghost town!

Despite all this, brands and businesses must bare in mind that any online conversations about them will be going on anyway - regardless of whether or not they participate. Turning a blind eye won’t make it go away, so surely it's better to be in the know?

The key to the plot is, unsurprisingly, to be clear on the objectives before wading in. With proper planning and the right strategy, it's been proved by many a great brand that it's entirely possible to keep those ghosts well and truly at bay.

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