Thursday, November 27, 2008

Avoiding the Manufactured Social Media Presence

In order for an organisation's social media strategy to succeed, the reader of the content must perceive the information to be both transparent and truthful. Whilst this necessity should require no additional effort by those organizations with a 'conversation' led strategy, a manufactured social media presence on the other hand will invariably be viewed with trepidation. Such a presence will more often than not be the result of social media misconceptions, emanating most notably from a lack of understanding of the imperative of two way information flows therein. Such misunderstandings will be most common within those organizations where the social media is not ingrained into the culture.

A manufactured social media presence is one that has been specifically crafted to convey a specific message to the recipient. These are often passed through senior management in order to seek approval before their release. Clearly this goes against the traditional social media value of transparent customer engagement, demonstrating one way information flows more reminiscent of the traditional media types slowly ebbing into contemporary obsolescence. Whilst the traditional media is oft referred to as the effective equivalent of 'shouting' at customers, the new media is more targeted towards 'conversing' with them. Success within the social media will invariably stem from the relationships created as a conversational corollary.

For customers to willingly engage with your organisation, the social media must establish two important prerequisites. Firstly, content submitted must always represent transparent information. Secondly, the likelihood of successfully establishing a relationship with the organisation must be perceived to be high. The absence of either will as a corollary result in the immediate reduction of content credibility. Content deemed to lack authenticity will fail to engage the customer, and may as a corollary generate negative content in response to perceived organisational efforts to manipulate the customer. As the social media was arguably developed for the customer, such a strategy is unlikely to be well received by the community.

As with many a discussion concerning the social media, the importance of adding value for the customer cannot be ignored. This remains the most viable method for successful engagement therein. Achieved by actively and transparently engaging with the customer in two way conversation, this is often illustrative of organisations in which social media is ingrained in the culture.

Which of the two strategies is most representative of your organisation; shouting or conversing? Why not put yourself in your customer's shoes and ask yourself how you would rather be communicated with...

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