Social media needs to move from promise, talk to rigor and action soon

Social media needs to move from promise, talk to rigor and action soon

Social media needs to move from promise, talk to rigor and action soon

Social media is the in thing nowadays. There is not a single day that passes without a story on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube or the stars of the social media space making it to the airwaves or the ink. The success of Obama and our very own Pink Chaddi campaign is fresh in our memories and already spoken to death in social media conferences and seminars.  On the other side, every other day, witness a new venture or foray into the space. If one adds up all the hype,  then social media should have already arrived from a brand communication and marketing perspective. Well, not really. Here is my take on what it will take to get social media which I agree is hot and presents profound new ways of touch, communication and engagement, can get there.

Need to go beyond piecemeal and one person service providers

Yes, it is the most democratic medium or platform. Yes, the young are more comfortable with the Orkuts, twitters and facebooks than the old and yes there is no geographical constraint as internet is universal. But let us not forget that brands or the process of branding (except for a few categories) is not something special or separate for social media. Social media needs new ways of adoption and customization to suit its’ unique ecosystem and ways but it is not that the branding process itself, is in for a radical change. This means that successful social media initiatives can be executed consistently over a period of time only with firms or players who have an understanding of how brands and the branding process works and then combine this understanding with social media expertise. While social media is powerful, combined offline and online campaigns will create higher impact.

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Need to go beyond tracking or listening

Am not sure how many know this. Software or tools that are meant for listening in social media are growing in abundance and at last count had 18 such URLs or names in my database. Am talking only of players who are visible and this number by itself seems to be growing at a brisk pace. While it is useful, let us understand that it is only the first step in a formal process a brand needs to undergo in social media.

Need to go beyond blogs

There is an urgent need to look beyond blogs, though blogs show a lot of promise, what with mobile blogs, video blogs and more. Am saying this more from the perspective that there are evolved tools like Twitter, Maplib, social bookmarking sites, besides the Facebooks, that truly offer immense potential. For example a friend of mine had done a campaign for a movie using twitter and maplib that was both creative and engaging. I also saw a website which is a wiki with the feeds on YouTube linked. A great idea, simply because these two tools have combined reach which is smartly being utilized. Heard someone recently tell me that Dell extensively uses Twitter for its global customer support.

Need to break the myth of complexity
Social media is not as techie or geekish or complex as many think or make it out to be. There are couple of thumb rules which work fairly well for starters. For example just focus on starting a blog and then use all the social media tools available to promote it. Also social media is not about just getting in but using it smartly to be heard and be visible.

Need to experiment
Let us be clear that all that is happening in social media is experiments and there are bound to be successful and bad experiments. The best is to learn from it and move on, as the space itself is exploding fast and learning is the most precious commodity around in the space. Much like a battle scarred veteran who wears his scars on his sleeve.

Need to be choosy
Not all brands and companies are suited for social media since it is a different world out there.  While it is exciting and great for some, it will be out of bounds for many. A company and its entire organization needs to be ready and be prepared for what social media entails and can assure of a surefire disaster if one is not prepared and goes around thinking it is like advertising which one can control. Even firms who play in the space would be well advised to do the diligence as too many failures or  bad starts is bound to speed derailing enthusiasm, to adopt the media.

There are many more need to do lists and hope what I have said and listed makes for a good start and gets us cracking into a cracker of a space called social media.

(Xavier Prabhu is Director & CEO of PRHUB, a customized communication solutions firm. He can be reached at xavier@prhub.com)

(Xavier Prabhu is Director & CEO of PRHUB, a customized communication solutions firm. He can be reached at xavier@prhub.com)

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