Social media: speaking with and about people

Two notable events were held in May: a conference, Go Social! Latvia 2011, and a visit to Latvia by one of the most influential marketing bloggers in the world, Chris Brogan. Chis gave a lecture as part of the 2011 Baltic PR Awards.  Strategic vision and nurturing relationships: these are two key phrases that have provoked thought after visiting both these conferences. The assertion that social media have changed the field of communications will not surprise you at all. Yet one thing is clear: for those companies that have moved towards using social media, these will most certainly continue to influence their agenda in the near future, one will have to think more about integrating such channels of communication into one’s marketing plans much more strategically. To plan or not to plan... The primary function of social media is to build relationships, to tell, to involve, to attract attention and to be present where we are being mentioned – especially in crisis situations. Most importantly, though: to talk about people and with people. This immediately raises the question: If this is all about human relationships, why does anything need to be planned? After all, when communicating with friends, we don’t strategise in any way. On his blog, chrisbrogan.com, Chris Brogan argues that it is important to understand the mechanism in which a communication channel is used. For example, if it is important for us to use social media to demonstrate that we are a contemporary company that is trustworthy and open to communication with its customers, then our tactics will definitely be different from when our primary desire is to reach a large audience, creating a buzz around our brand. It is therefore crucial to understand one’s objectives and, before jumping in head first, to mark clear steps of HOW this can be achieved. The fact that we can run promotions and contests in social media does not mean that they are what we need or that they guarantee the achievement of the intended communication objective. Whereas, if a contest is part of a strategy, it could produce very good results. Number of fans If a company sets up a Facebook page, it will be important for it to attract a considerable number of fans. Yet one must also bear in mind that a large number of followers does not equal participation and feedback, or quality. On the one hand, a rapid increase in followers can look great, but, on the other, once fans stop following you one after another and show no desire in engaging in the dialogue, we no longer look like heroes! If our priority is reaching a quality audience, standard social network activities will not suffice. Also, readers who have a negative attitude can be valuable: they are talking about us, and it is only up to us to turn them from harsh critics into faithful fans! Try all you want: you have to be sincere In conclusion: a very well known but important insight which, I think, should be remembered more often. People trust social media. Therefore, let us be sincere, let us listen, let us allow negative things to be said, and let us get involved: if need be, we will apologise. Because social media mean human relationships! Social media make us speak the truth, and that is possibly one of the greatest benefits to the communication industry.
Tags & Categories:  social media
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