Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Small Organisation and the Social Media Part Two; Social Bookmarking

Yesterday, I discussed the small organisation and the social media, explaining that many proactive entrepreneurs may actually be causing greater harm than good to their organisation by devoting too many of their resources towards engaging the conversation. Though admirable, the development of an emersive social media presence can require a significant investment of both time and resources; both of which have become scarce as the economy has worsened. Should smaller businesses be discouraged from engaging the social media in favour of more business crucial functions, such as production and distribution? Again, this is likely to be debatable. As the ease with which a social presence can be created increases though, the opportunity for even the smallest of organisations to engage their customers through these tools and platforms rises similarly. They just need to plan their presence strategically.

Forget the Social Media Checklist!
As I discussed several months back, there is no such thing as a social media checklist; organisations should simply adopt those tools and platforms most appropriate to their individual needs. Blogs, microblogs and fan pages are only worth the investment if your customers are actively engaging these tools themselves, or if it is probable that they will adopt them at some stage in the future. Those that advise that a blog is imperative, or that a Facebook fanpage cannot be ignored are unrealistic; and given the current importance of resource allocation in the workplace, these suggestions can in fact result in negative repercussions. Is there a place for these tools in small businesses? Without question. What i'm trying to emphasise here though, is that these tools are never obligatory. Small businesses need to be intelligent about the tools which they select.

Community Development and Social Bookmarking
There are several simple steps which the smaller organisation can take in order to establish a sense of community around their products and brands; a number of which will be examined over the coming days here at the Lovable Rogue blog. The most obvious first step for community development involves implementing tagging buttons at the bottom of webpages of interest. Pages that provide an insight into either the organisation's products or industry may prove interesting to the customer base, some of whom may wish to share the content with their friends and acquaintances.

Sharing is Caring
The simple inclusion of a StumbleUpon, Digg or button can quickly introduce an element of interactivity to even the most basic of webpages. With tools such as the fantastic AddThis from Clearspring, the introduction of comprehensive social bookmarking functionality has never been easier. Whilst platforms such as these facilitate the development of community around the organisation, the resources required to maintain these functions are comparatively low. In fact, the organisation's sole obligation is to ensure that content on the site remains informative and relevant to the user. With all things considered though, this is a goal towards which the organisation should already be working.

Social Bookmarking is but one of the methods for establishing an online community around a small business. Tomorrow's post will examine microblogging, highlighting that whilst your small organisation may not have time to actively engage in the creation of a comprehensive blog, the introduction of microblogging platforms such as Twitter may offer an alternative solution. Thanks for reading.


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