Social Networking means active management

A year has passed, and so this becomes one of a plethora of dormant blogs. It’s made me think- especially in this new Web 2.0 world, how much of our social networking will become stagnant, irrelevant, useless?

Working for a large corporate company, the new buzzword (for at least the last 18 months) has been “Social Networking”…and everyone wants a piece, but really, how much value can there be for a company that only wants a presence?

The underlying truth with these mediums is the same as any web presence. If you haven’t got a plan, a set of objectives, and someone- yes- ONE person at least who has sole responsibility to feed it, nurture it and occasionally spank it if it’s bad, then it will end up being the sulking kid in the corner. (Pretty much like this work blog!)

Social Networking takes a hell of a lot of energy, much more than your standard static website. Unlike the “push publishing” of the early 90’s, you actually have to maintain an active dialogue. Let’s face it, you’ve not only got to be active, you’ve got to be damned interesting!

This is great activity to do with family and friends, but how do you do it for a corporate company when you’re selling a product? Do you create a community about the product, or the benefits, or the “types’ of people who would like both?

It seems like a simple scenario, for example; I’m selling ‘the Energy company’ as a ‘Green Company’. I’m not selling the energy itself, just the position.

So I’ll set up a Green Energy profile in Facebook, and I’ll talk about all the benefits. I might even get all twittery and start sending out bursts on how you can save money, time, perhaps go to some green events etc. Hey, I’ll even get a couple of B-Grade celebs to come and post some personal tips on how to live green. That’ll be cool, people will love it……..Right?

WRONG. Social Networking has one thing that going for it that most other mediums in marketing don’t have- it has an ‘inbuilt mass-volume instant bulls**t detector”.

Users know straight away (or at least with a few clicks) that a profile has been set up by a company selling “Green Energy”- so anything you endorse instantly looks like a pitch.

That’s okay if you are open about it and perhaps use incentives- but if you REALLY are about branding and position, then your profile needs to be objective, removed from the company, and MOST importantly, able to take the good with the bad.

Long gone are the days of the “Web Master moderator” who goes in and deletes unfavorable comments.

Now is the time to hire yourself some subject experts, give them a brief and let them go to town.

I know it sounds mad- crazy even! It’s not, it’s the natural progression of “Content is King” (thanks Gerry!).

Find out what users are reading in “Green Land”, get yourself some credible “Green experts”, give them a framework for publishing and stand back.

If you really want to build an active community as a corporate company, you need to make a decision early on- “Do I want this branded?” or “Do I want this to work?”

My answer would be the latter, and I’m sure there are many examples of branded Corporate facebook profiles, though I have to be honest- I just cant think of one….

Published by Claire Spencer

Senior social media specialist combining mindfulness with content to build a better world.

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