Anti-Social? Your Actions May Say You Are

You may spend tens of thousands of dollars on advertising; you may have directors or managers of communications and marketing; you spend for premium TV ads or sponsor major sporting events – all in the name of getting your brand before your consumers’ eyes.

So why, then, do many companies take a “let the intern do it” attitude to social media?

That’s not just anti-social – it’s downright counter-productive.

Fortunately, we’ve come down from the hyperbolic mountaintop where we found various social-media gurus, wizards, ninjas, and Grand Poohbahs (oh, sorry, those were Waterbuffaloes).

Businesses have found that those espousing social media as the be all and end all – the solution to all of a company’s ills and an easy way to engage thousands upon millions of (purchased or otherwise) fans were suffering the effects of the thin air on those mountaintops.

But that realization does not mean that you have to descend down into the valley where social media is a term spoken, but not embraced. Where it’s an afterthought handed to the intern – and then lamented for a lack of results.

Social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, often are your potential customers’ primary introduction to your brand. Some may find you through traditional search methods, but a significant number are looking for referrals from friends and trusted colleagues – referrals you see frequently on social networks.

Wouldn’t it make sense that those doorways to your business need to be managed by someone who knows where the keys are?

Often, in bigger companies, social media is handled by a junior member of the staff overseen by a larger management structure. For small-to-medium-sized businesses, social networking is a more intimate experience – and the big boys can learn from the little guys as to how to do it right.

What makes social media effective is the ability to give your customers a window into your world. You want to share your voice, your atmosphere, and your business philosophy. You want to share what makes you different and give your customers – and potential customers – valuable information.

So why give the reins of such a potentially powerful tool to someone with only a cursory knowledge of your business?

The most successful social networks are handled by those who understand the entirety of your business. Those people who interact with your entire staff, or will make the effort to do so, and be trusted with those unique stories, experiences, and information. Your company is more than just marketing – it’s customer service, distribution, manufacturing, R&D… there is so much out there to share, but the person with their fingers on the keys needs to know what’s going on.

Social media is not a stand-alone component, but rather an integral tool used in conjunction with your traditional marketing and communications efforts. If you expect Twitter to change your world, you're going to be disappointed. But if you see it as another tactic in your branding strategy -- complementing, but not replacing traditional advertising, customer-service efforts, and public relations' efforts -- then you're likely to use it effectively.

Social media is free – and, as such, some companies undervalue the effort it takes to create quality content. If you’re going to pay tens of thousands for a 30-second TV spot or a back-page ad in a magazine, you call in the big guns. After all, you don’t want to waste your time or money, right?

But what about opportunity? Why are you willing to waste that? Social networks are a 24/7 window into your business. If you create quality, engaging content, your customers will find you. If you create an environment where people can discuss your brand, share ideas and criticisms, and encourage interaction, you’ll position yourself as a trusted voice amongst your competitors.

Yes, it takes time. Despite what the gurus preach, you can’t buy your way to success (unless you value fake Thailand-based likes…); it takes effort, dedication, and commitment.

And, most of all, it takes knowledge. Your social networks can help drive success – but only if you allow an experienced driver to take the wheel.

Your thoughts? How does your company handle social networking? What works and what doesn’t for you?

Questions Answered

Who should do social media for my business?

Do I need someone dedicated to social media for my company?

How important is Facebook and Twitter to my company?

Who should manage my Pinterest boards?

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