Monday, December 28, 2009

Social Media Primer: Time and Risk

So you’re a business major. You know there’s this Internet thing. And people are facebooking and twittering all over themselves about it. And your boss mentioned that you need to get a social media strategy. What do you need to know?

We’re looking at time and risk today. Some key terms are defined in the primer about ‘What’s a Blog’

First, there’s time. Social media is about people talking to people. That takes time. You have to have someone look up from their budgets and spreadsheets and pay attention. It can be a full time job, or an entire department dedicated to social media. The time commitment depends on what technology you want to use.

Second, there’s risk. You’re putting your brand out there for people to talk about. And they will talk. Good, bad and ugly. If you offer a platform for their comments, you will hear about it. Managing that flow of potentially brand damaging negative comment flow is challenging. You can accept it, take the criticism, modify your behaviors (products, plans, etc). You can ignore it – but why are you in social media if you’re ignoring it? Being transparent, and acknowledging your problems can bring significant customer perception rewards. Comcast, Zappos, Sprint and others have used social media technologies to defuse potential time-bombs of customer problems.

A bad social media presence also creates risk – social media is where people are talking today. You wouldn’t put out a website designed by your second cousin, or produce commercials with a camcorder and a work light? Social media is coming of age and should be treated with the same level of professionalism as traditional media. Social media is just faster, more immediate and more (virtual) belly-to-belly relationship building.
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