Social Media works if you make it work for you

Almost every week, I’m asked questions on the merit of social media. People are curious about why one would need to use facebook or twitter. My usual response is that social media works, but it only works if you make it work for you.

Of course it takes time and effort and you will need to moderate your social media accounts. Could you hire someone to do that for you? Sure, but you could also hire someone to look after your kids and raise them.  Is that what you want?

In order to clearly explain what I mean by “making it work for you” I thought I would share what my process is and how I make it work for me.

Fortunately, I started early. I’ve been blogging since 2004, so blogging is part of my social media strategy. This strategy is no more than a word though. I don’t have a blogging schedule and I’m not very discipline. I write blog posts when I have something to say but I always write on topic.

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Social Media works in mysterious ways

I’ve participated in a few “Ask The Experts” panels in the past few months and couldn’t help but notice that Social Media is quite the hot topic right now. People are very keen in learning how to use Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc… Most attendees are curious about how it works, why anyone would invest the time and energy, what’s the ROI and if it’s the right avenue for their business. These are all good questions and there are simply no easy answer. It really depends on who your audience is and where they are.

A funny thing happened to me last Friday which demonstrates how complicated and unpredictable it is to explain the power of Social Media.

I have a Twitter account and follow mostly designers and WordPress developers. This allows me to find out about latest tips, tutorials and website development news. Cameron Moll posted a tweet to a “mesmerizing” YouTube video which caught my attention. I clicked the link and watched a video taken at Kuroshio Sea which is the 2nd largest aquarium in the world.

The video is indeed breathtaking, but I was curious about the music. I watched and listened to the video a couple of times and wanted to find out who was singing. Using my iPhone, I Shazammed it and got the name of the song, band and album. A quick search on YouTube led me to a video of Barcelona singing live in San Diego. I watched a few more videos and decided to visit Barcelona’s page on MySpace. Listened to a few more clips and then I was off to iTunes and bought the album.

I’m not sure that a marketer could have predicted this, but I’m convinced that Social Media is worth investing in.

Don’t Risk Losing Control of Your Brand

At a new media session at CES that I attended last week the panelists cautioned companies to ignore new media (especially blogs and social networks) at their peril. If companies insist on being ostriches with their corporate heads in the sand, they risk losing control of their brand.

Last weeks furore over Tim Horton’s employees and their Facebook antics is a case in point. With over 3,400 members, the “Rules of Ordering and More” group lists 80 or so tips that customers should take to heart if they want good service. Apparently the group is administered by Timmy’s employees unbeknownst to their employer. Its actually quite funny – you should take a read.

Had Tim Hortons (the famous Canadian Donut franchise owned by Pepsico) been monitoring the Internet effectively, the company would have been aware of groups like this much sooner and could have put contingencies in place to protect its brand or HR policies to outline appropriate employee conduct on the Internet. Had it been more proactive it could have channeled the publicity it received last week to its benefit rather than detriment.

Companies cannot ignore web 2.0 technologies any longer. They must, at the very least, be listening to what is being said about them even if they are not ready to be contributing to the conversation: in that way they have a chance at least of maintaining some control over their brand.

Facebook is surprisingly useful

Recently a friend of mine sent me an invitation to join her network on Facebook. I ignored it at first, thinking back to my first experience with the social networking site; I had seen how my college-aged step-daughter uses it. She and her friends post tons of photos and notes for each other, mainly centering around recent parties etc. Theirs is a socially active world with time to spare, compared to mine. So Facebook didn’t seem like it was a place for me.

But recently the site has broken past it’s college bounds and people from all walks of life are signing up. I was convinced to try it out after reading reviews by Alexandra Samuel and Rob Cottingham.

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