Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To Facebook or not to Facebook: That is the question.

 Everyone is communicating these days. Facebook, Twitter, blogging and LinkedIn, for example, are commonly used. Since the birth of these social media babies, everyone is communicating. But are they? That is the real question.

I would say, it depends on what you have to say, how often, and whether or not your target audience is listening. If you are Gene Simmons or Justin Bieber for example, you might not have anything to say, but people are willing to listen. (Incidentally, did you hear what Bieber got for Christmas?)

Facebooking has become one of the communication vehicles that business can use to reach an audience. Images are easily uploaded as are status updates.
For those who like to share a thought a moment, there is Twitter.  

LinkedIn is described as the business meeting place. Profiles are professional in nature as are the conversations.

Blogging is another vehicle that helps you get the message out in the form of story.  My view on blogging is that they should follow journalistic principles.

Personally, I love them all, but I am a professional communicator so I enjoy the experiment.  

From a business standpoint, these tools can help you educate your audience in an integrated way.

For example, my website at is fully connected to my Facebook page, blog, Twitter account, Linkedin and to my online CV.  This allows me to provide information to potential clients or employers from a single point of access.

I update my blog weekly, or when I have something relevant that others might find interesting. My blog is updated to my Facebook page and Twitter. I am also careful about who I accept on Twitter by not allowing opening following.

From a personal standpoint, these tools help families and friends to connect a way never before possible. 

But if you are a business interested in entering the fray of social media here are some things to be aware of.

1.  Strategy 

We often confuse the toys and the tools with the strategy. Social media tools are just enablers that may be a part of a broader communication strategy, or may not. I recently heard an interview with Jon Bon Jovi who acknowledged the potential power to reach millions of people simultaneously, but that he will never be tweeting about his dinner. That's not his strategy. The band Bon Jovi uses social media to talk to their fans about the music.  Not dinner.

2.  Investment 

There are costs - time, financial and reputation -  so be prepared to invest or walk away. Communication is an art and a science, I would recommend consulting a professional communicator. Just because you can utter the English language does not make you a communicator. (I can count, but that does not make me an accountant.) Communications professionals understand audience and messaging. They can help you reach your audience and manage your message in good times and in the times of crisis.

3. Content

You need good, relevant content that people will be interested in reading. A Facebook page without good content becomes stagnant. The upside to a Facebook page or blog is the content is easily updated so it can alleviate website management costs. If you have a story to tell, blogging is a great tool, but there again, it is best to access professional resources to blog your story. Bad blogs are just noise.

4. Frequency   

I would ask you to consider frequency.  Bogging down the Facebook pages and mail boxes of your "friends" who "like" you can be like an guest that never leaves. We might "like" you, but we will "unsubscribe" so we never have to hear from you unless we initiate the conversation.  

5. Management and monitoring

Your social media sites need to be monitored. While you want to attract your market, you will also attract those who feel they have the right to say whatever they want all over your pages. For example, when a disgruntled employee vents all over your page, you need to be aware of it, and you need to either offset the situation by blocking, or you need to remove the offending comments.  If you play in the world of social media, you need to be aware of privacy and permissions as the tools and the world continue to change and evolve. The default privacy setting for Facebook is open, because that is the intent, but it may not be yours.

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