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November 1st, 2007

When it Comes to Social Media, Ask The Hard Questions

Cross-posted from Media Guerrilla.

In my world, this time of year is always crunchy, it’s an endurance race to the holidays. It means unfortunately that I don’t get to read as much, blog as much, breathe as much, etc., but oh well, so be it. I figure I can either put my head down to cover ground and get some creative stuff in the works for ’08 or stand still debating the finer points of bad PR vs. ugly PR vs. fugly PR. It’s a pretty easy decision, right?

One observation I will share as I’ve been scooting about, is that I’m increasingly seeing this me-too mentality surface inside companies that want to do more with social media. My hunch is that this stems from a mix of places, but mostly, it stems from fear. Fear that companies that are embracing new tools and new practices online are gaining “all sorts of business advantages” — and that other companies somehow, sadly are falling behind because they are not.

Truthfully, this is a healthy fear to have, but please don’t kid yourself or let it blind you. If you’re considering social media projects, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions first. Can your company tell its story with a blog? How will a presence on MyFaceSpace augment communications? Does a SMPR have any utility? Can a widget add value? Do your customers watch online videos? Does a mention on a blog really get you anything? Do you have the time to invest to do this right?

The list goes on, the important thing is that you ask the questions – both internally if you’re on the corporate side and externally, if you’re talking to a consultant. Oh, and for all of these questions, there’s the big, fat inevitable one, right, which is “where has this been successful?” I mean, if you’re gonn’a try and replicate something that’s been done, know that it worked, right?

Fear is one of those classic business motivators, and at times it’s a healthy one, but don’t let it cloud your judgement or get in the way of what you’re company is trying to accomplish. Social tools, social strategies might be be able to help your business in a number of ways, but they might also be a terrible distraction.

The only way you’ll know which is to be uncomfortable with the easy answers and always ask the hard questions.

About the Author
Mike Manuel is the GM of Voce Connect, the social media marketing and web development arm of Voce Communications. In between managing this team and overseeing Voce's digital programs, he'll post a thought or two on mike-manuel.com and via @mmanuel on Twitter.

Filed in Public Relations, Social Media

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