Social Media – Not the Same as Digital Communication

This is genuinely the most uninspired title that I’ve ever read and it’s here on my blog. The shame. But – hey – it does what it says on the packet and here’s a brief sorta ‘clarification’ post, which came out of an email I received this morning.

Here I’ve been, for some considerable time now – although you’d never know by the number of posts, I am a slowcoach – airing my views on social media and why it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be (without, it might be said, providing any solutions and I promise I’ll come to those soon, just not in this post) and it occured to me that I’ve never drawn the parameters for my views. I’ve never defined what, for me, social media is, and where exactly, for me,  its usefulness begins and ends.

Most importantly, I don’t want anyone to think that in shouting ‘no clothes, no clothes’ at the body of social media, I am implying a disdain for all things digital and netty. I’m not, no way.

I was reminded of this this morning, by an email that talked about (and I’m paraphrasing) permission-based marketing through email being highly powerful. Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more. If you’ve managed to get people to give you their email address, and perhaps a few snippets of information about who they are too, then – as long as you don’t abuse it – this is an incredibly potent opportunity. Tailor individual content (and there’s software that’ll manage this for you), intrigue them, give them stuff they need/want and they’re yours for life. Cannot argue with it.

Likewise – have you got a web presence? Probably – hey, what am I thinking – definitely! Is it any good? Hmmm? Are you certain it’s any good? If you can’t answer that last question, please drop everything you are doing and get on and do something about it. Work night and day until your web presence is the very best it can be, You don’t need me to tell you how to do this, and – no – it doesn’t have to be very costly. (Incidentally, my web presence is not everything I’d like it to be, thus I’m something of a hypocrite, but I’ll plead poverty and an unsuitable skillset for this state of affairs, and apologise. I will sort it out.) If you have a great web presence, full of interesting stuff that appeals to your target audience, then you may – if you’re lucky – build a community around your product, service or organisation. Your e-marketing dovetails with this.

However – and here’s the big however – the community that you may build if you’re very careful (very, very careful indeed) is made up of people who understand what they’re dealing with (a ‘commercial’ enterprise) and willingly sign up for it. This is the end goal of a digital media strategy.

The term ‘social media strategy’ implies that one can do the same thing through social media and this is where I personally draw the line. The people who sign up to be become part of social media networks are neither expecting nor – most importantly – do they want  to deal with a ‘commercial’ enterprise. There’s no denying that some brands/organisations/products HAVE gate-crashed these worlds, but I’d hazard it’s more by luck that judgement. For every videoclip or flash game that’s gone viral there are hundreds and thousands that have sunk without a trace taking the marketing budget with them.

Social media is not (necessarily) digital media – that’s my point for today. I fully support digital marketing and communications and investment in same – I don’t think one should expend too much effort on social media. If it happens, great – but don’t go chasing the impossible dream.

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