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Myths and Fears of Social Media October 4, 2010

Posted by Brian Link in Internet culture, socialmedia.
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There are many misconceptions about the ubiquitous term “social media”. Let me start addressing this first with a truth: Social media is not going to immediately or perhaps ever radically change your business.  It can however, make significant changes to the way you think about your brand, finding leads, recruiting, and communicating with and supporting your customers. I tell my clients that it’s the modern telephone; back when phones were brand new, not everyone had one, but soon everyone expected you to be using them. The same is true with every milestone in the way communication has evolved. Social Media is just another communication medium that facilitates conversations over the Internet.

Social Media may seem like a fad because of all of the buzz.  But it’s important to be able to see through the flurry of activity to the larger trend: 79% of Fortune 500 businesses are using social media everyday (according to the 2010 Burson Marsteller study).  There may be thousands of social networks of different kinds on the Internet, but there are really only so many places you are likely to find a significant portion of your customers, partner businesses and prospective clients. Most US based businesses need only address the following: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I also recommend that you produce a blog and share multi-media content on one other site regularly such as YouTube or Flickr.

Today’s Internet culture is unavoidable. Can you imagine a business forbidding their employees from even using the Internet to do their job?  It will soon be the same for social media sites, but today many businesses block Facebook, Twitter and other social sites at the firewall.  Clearly, businesses need to make a decision about how much their business will embrace the new social web and enact and enforce policies that both caution and encourage their employees to do the right thing appropriately.

Creating a culture that accepts the social web and having a management team that sets a strong example (think Zappos) is perhaps the best strategy, but it starts with great employees and an open culture.  If your business isn’t there yet, it’s important to start taking steps in that direction in a way that makes sense for your company. I think you’ll find if you trust your employees, you’ll be happy with their innovation and productivity. Employees are free to say what they want over email and in public already aren’t they!?  With a little training, you can trust them with social media channels as well.

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