The social media conundrum

Of all the issues many in-house communication teams are struggling with right now (apart from budgets) the most common one I hear is the social media conundrum.

There'll be someone in the office, possibly not even in the marketing or communications team who is constantly prodding: We should be on Facebook!  Look, everyone else is!  Or: we should open up an Instagram account or start tweeting.  Of course, the sentiments are usually genuine. Then there is the member of the Executive team, perhaps the CEO, who goes to a conference and hears the slick presentation from some social media guru.  He or she comes back spruiking the gospel according to St Gizmo and pretty soon you are charging down the path of launching pages, opening accounts and writing blogs.

None of this is bad okay?  I recognise too that the best digital practitioners are often the most cautious when it comes to recommending a client enters the social media sphere.  And hey, there is no question at all that digital is transforming the world – I am not a digital denier. (In fact, I have a hunch that historians in the future will identify the period we are living in right now as the time the digital revolution really started to transform how we live and work.) 

However, like everything else in business any decision about engaging in social media as a corporate entity needs to begin with a clear understanding of how it might help achieve your business objectives.  Most importantly, will it actually improve your product or service offering for your customers?  Will their experience improve? Do the people you need to connect with actually use social media?  Even if they do, how likely is it that they will want you, a commercial entity, to enter what they might regard as their personal world. (I still struggling with my bank wanting to be my Facebook friend...) From the customer's perspective, can your product or service offering genuinely be improved via social media?  How?  If we DO decide to open up a social media channel for ongoing communication with clients or customers, can we support it on an ongoing basis? 

Answering those questions requires some honest assessment and a little deep thinking.

I stress again, I am not arguing against you taking the social media leap – it has amazing possibilities.  But to quote that timeless aphorism – look, before you leap.