Social Media – These Truths…….Self-Evident…..

Well – here’s something of a landmark – the 100th post since this blog commenced its outpouring of random musings on all things communications.

Well, that was the idea, anyway. What’s actually happened, as my regular blog snorkellers will know, is that I’ve been cunningly diverted from my original aim by this new-fangled social media malarkey, which has taken up vast swathes of this blog, big chunks of my time and a fair amount of wordcount.

The 100th post seems a good time to round it all up, briefly. To summarise the small amount I’ve picked up, the conclusions I’ve reached, the positions I took and the way that they have changed over time. The one thing that is certain, however, is that – whether you’re a social media aficionado or not – you cannot ignore it and the speed at which it (and the thinking on best practice that surrounds it) has changed and continues to change is quite – as our American friends would have it – awesome.

My charming wife – who is something big in marketing – was completely horrified when I shared my thoughts on social media as marketing tools – for the record, they aren’t. She was dreadfully concerned that I’d be seen as a dinosaur, a Luddite, and be left behind as the rest of you surfed away on the crest of the nouvelle vague.

So, once and for all, as a statement of intent, here’s where I stand on the whole social media deal.

  • Social media is here to stay. You cannot ignore it
  • Every company, large or small, should have a clear-cut, unambiguous, not-open-to-misinterpretation social media policy – properly communicated and enforced
  • Social media comes to the fore in times of crisis and is a creator of issues – every company’s crisis management document should contain a section on social media
  • Every company should have trained spokespeople whose responsibilities include responding to comments/issues generated or communicated via social media. Sometimes they might even be proactive
  • The majority of a company’s employees, however, should not be allowed to post to social media, either on company time, on company business or about the company
  • Social media are not – yet – valid marketing tools. Your budget is still better spent elsewhere
  • Social media are, however, communications tools and, as such, belong to the PR or communications department
  • Everything that gets posted to social media on behalf of a company must either go through, or have gone through, an approval system
  • You do not need to spend a vast fortune on social media strategy or social media monitoring – one is an oxymoron, the other can be carried out perfectly adequately, in-house, in minutes, via search engines
  • Social media is not the same as digital. Digital is wide-ranging, well-established and value-adding – social is but one small, unproven, part of digital
  • Social media does not have a track record, no-one has much experience with it, and no-one knows what it can and cannot do
  • Traditional media can bite if mishandled – there’s no reason to suppose that social media won’t do the same
  • No-one has found a way of making money out of social media yet – not even the social media owners
  • Inevitably, social media will consolidate – the question is which social media brand/s will survive
  • Social media is not the saviour of PR, nor is it a doorway to a new society or a new way of doing business. Engage with it by all means – understand what it is – monitor its development – but do not get carried away. If the Emperor has any clothes on, they are limited to a pair of baggy, grey y-fronts

There you go, That’s it. I hope it’s unambiguous enough and shows that I’m neither a dinosaur, or a Luddite. I’m a lean, mean communicating machine, currently having a cup of coffee and smoke on the sidelines, waiting to see how the surf develops.

Happy hundredth post – I look forward to seeing you at my next centenary.

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