Sunday, April 19, 2009

Social Media; It's just a Conversation!

Conversation has been a staple of society since the dawn of civilization. Whilst the manner in which conversations have been conducted within this time has been both diverse and varied; from hieroglyphics and smoke signals, to text messages and emails, the purpose remains constant; to advance the interaction between the sender and the recipient of the information. Through both verbal and written engagements, the conversation is the result of thousands of years of human interaction; a skill which some of us have become all too efficient at in recent years! Social media is simply the latest iteration of the conversation; there's nothing more to it.

Remembering the Revolution
Whilst we marketers and social media enthusiasts are quick to give deep and meaningful reasons for these engagements, the real logic for many a presence within the social media is simply to enhance the reach of the traditional conversation. This is hardly surprising, particularly when we consider that the term 'Web 2.0' is more often associated with a social revolution than it is with a technological one. Although the technologies which have been developed as a result of this revolution have the capacity to facilitate communications, it is important to remember that these developments are a result of societal demands, and not vice versa. Sure, these tools have enabled users to converse with a far wider audience, but at the end of the day, the power of the conversation rules. The social media just happens to move with it.

Joining the Conversation
So, if the social media is a conversation, then why are so many organisations still so reluctant to participate therein? Imagine how the customer would react if she entered a store looking for information, only to be turned away as a result of company policy preventing staff to customer interaction. This is a good way to quickly alienate the customer. Fortunately, such a situation is absurd, and hopefully these occurences are rare in the real world. It does surprise me though that many organisations are still determined to detach themselves from the online conversation. When conversations concerning brands and services will almost certainly exist online, absence from the online sphere will merely ensure that these organisations lack the capacity to engage therein. Such a strategy will not simply prevent the organisation from interacting with the cutomer; it will potential allow the competition to define the brand as they see fit. This is clearly a potentially damaging prospect.

So, to all those people who say that the social media is some complex organisational tool demonstrative of a firm's capacity to operate in a technology driven market, it's not. The truth is that it's actually a lot more simple than that. The social media is a conversation, and that's why, whether you are a business or an individual, you need to be involved. Thanks for reading.


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