Social Media: The Great Brand Deceiver

For brand marketers, social media holds a tantalizing intrigue: it’s free! At least, that’s how we tend to think about it. The problem is that it’s not free. Yes, setting up a Facebook page is pretty much free. And if you have any programming ability at all, you can create tabs. But social media simply doesn’t function like a website. You can build it, but they won’t come until you give them a reason to.

Essentially, the social media space is a series of ongoing conversation strings. If you want your brand’s presence to become a hub or even a way station for these conversations, then you must seed the environment with relevance. Another way to say this is that you must apply someone to write regularly within your social space, and you must spend time thinking about the conversations you want that person to initiate or orchestrate. That all makes social media decidedly less free, but this can still be an exercise that becomes well worth doing.

Inevitably, your brand’s first steps into social media will be slightly painful. You will not wake to find that 283,000 people have visited you and commented on something. You will find that six have, and two of those will have been accidental. But once you cope with the inevitable early frustrations that come with lackluster participation, you can start to dig in and understand the social space for what it is – a useful channel that has its own characteristics and its own requirements. At its heart, it’s a space owned and dominated by people who do not work for your brand and who have no special allegiance to it. But if you treat it like a playground and find ways to make friends, you can belong. And when you belong, your friends will spread the good word for you.

Below is an excellent example of how to make social media work. It’s on mashable.com, and was contributed by noted author Guy Kawasaki. His mission was to promote his new book, and he and his team looked at social media as a piece of the whole. The result was good, and the cost was largely labor. Enjoy: Guy Kawasaki on Mashable

 

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