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Navigating Social Media

January - 2010
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Social Media is quickly becoming the focus of many organizations. Unlike traditional advertising and Public Relations, Social media solicits audience participation and often real time interaction. You have social networking sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to name a few. As more and more people turn to the Internet for their daily dose of news and entertainment, socials sites will continue to expand and grow in prominence. Is Social Media right for you? Only you can decide if it would benefit your organization. There are advantages and disadvantages to consider. Let's take a brief look at the ups and downs of Social Media.

The Good: Social media enables companies to enlist participation by their audience either through on-line posting, video blogging or other methods such as on-line gaming. Word of mouth between participants and frequent postings creates a 'family' atmosphere. It brings the once distant company into their homes via the computer monitor and enables them to interact in ways never before possible. What was once a two-way discussion now becomes a public situation. This can be a positive situation if they are saying good things about your company or negative if they are posting something bad.

The Bad: On-line posting enables people to share their thoughts about a company and discuss situations with others. As long as the people are saying something positive, no problem… but if someone posts something negative about you or your company on the internet, millions could potentially see this. It could form negative opinions about your company no matter if the information accurately portrays the situation or not. So, if you are determined to engage in Social Media, you had better be prepared to have people dedicated to monitoring the Social Media sites and alert you to anything that might be considered detrimental to your company. And, once you identify a negative situation, you must react quickly to counter it. If you participate in Social Media, you must be prepared to add people… whether they are freelance or on staff, only time will tell how many you will need to effectively cover the Social Media sites.

The Ugly: Negative on-line exposure tends to take on a life of its own. People love seeing and hearing bad things about others. It is human nature. Seeing something bad about someone else makes people feel good about themselves. They can sit back and say, "Whew… glad that isn't happening to me." So, no matter how quickly you react to a negative situation, there will be residual on the Internet. Things do not go away. Just try doing a Google search on your company's name and see how many references come up from years past… things you had forgotten about… things that you weren't aware of. It is all there and archived. So, even though you are able to react quickly, it may not squelch the negativity surrounding the initial event.

You may not have a choice whether or not you want to participate. If people are posting blog comments… on-line videos… or anything else that pertains to your company, you have just been sucked into on-line Social Media. If this is the case, you have two choices. You can either decide to just ignore it and hope it goes away, or you can delve into it and take positive steps to ensure the integrity of the information being broadcast.

Social Media is PMR:

Participate
Monitor
Reac
t

Once you decide to delve into Social Media, you must be prepared to participate, monitor and react quickly in order to maintain the integrity of your 'Brand'. It takes time… it takes people… it takes dedication.


Bill Howard
421 Runnymede Drive
Rock Hill, SC 29732
Home: 803-817-1889
Cell: 803-517-5418
Website: www.themarcompro.com