Sunday, February 26, 2012
What the "s" in social media really stands for
“Superfluous,” some argued just three years ago when we presented our first social media seminar to clients and colleagues. Some sceptics argued that Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn would never gain critical mass when it came to communication with investors, advisers or asset consultants.
“Scary,” and an unnecessary open door to public criticism, others said.
Some sceptics became converts as we ran those social media seminars, and they started on a journey that today sees them using content marketing and social channels successfully as part of their overall marketing and PR program.
I’d make a strong case that the “s” in social media stands for “same same but different.”
As we work with clients developing social media capability, one truism has become a touchtone in our consulting practice.
The execution may be (very) different but the principles are the same.
The “same” is that great communication is still grounded in understanding the context, knowing the audiences and saying something worth listening to – in the audience’s judgement, rather than our own.
In reputation management, proactive positive PR, or in managing issues or a crisis, best practice offline is still best practice online. It just has to be executed fundamentally differently.
The “different” is usually faster, with greater transparency and more engagement. And of course messages are being delivered via very different channels. Yes, the medium does become the message. Or worse, the absence of the medium (let’s say you’re not using Twitter yet and everyone else is) becomes the message.
Once upon a time we were using faxes, lots of paper, telephones and briefings to reach audiences such as employees, journalists and government. Now we’re using Yammer, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs. The channels are different, and yes, they’ve changed the messages but strategy, process and creative are still needed and largely similar.
Three years ago when we ran our first social media seminars we talked about whether there was a business case for social media. At the time I suggested it was like websites in financial services in the 90s – by the time we had a business case we’d be the only one in town without one.
Financial services is now well past the social media tipping point.
Not having a website now is inconceivable. So too is not managing your reputation in social media.
This post was first published in PRognosis, the BlueChip client communique on 16 February 2012