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Social Media is the Center of your Customer’s Online World. Why are you Treating it in a Vacuum?

Social Media is fairly well established as the headliner of the online world.  Even its predecessor, the search engine, has ceded to social media by positioning sites like YouTube, Wikipedia, Flickr, blogs and user forums at the top of search results, and building in preferential treatment for websites that are updated often.

A quick look at the list of Alexa’s top websites in the U.S (full list below) confirms that 11 of the top 20 websites are hardcore social media sites.  Click through the rest and you will find social media functionality on all of them.

This realization, coupled with the announcement earlier this year that if Facebook was a country, it would be fourth largest country in the world, and similar stats from other top social media sites (the average online video viewer watches over 6 hours of online video per month), confirms that social media is indeed the mothership of your customer’s online experience.

So why do companies insist on giving the social media team their own lunch table?  We’re nice people – really.  In fact, our shining personalities are critical success factors in representing your brand in social media.  So why can’t we play with others?  Your .com team, e-commerce folks, CRM manager, search and digital agencies, there are plenty of people who would find our jokes funny.

And why stop there?  Successful social media campaigns do not exist in a vacuum.  They are integrated to the Nth degree.  They are cross-linked from your homepage, integrated into the email design of your loyalty program, noted in the boiler plate on your press releases, displayed as hyperlinks on your TV spots, painted on the side of your trucks, incorporated into your executives’ speeches, printed on your print collateral or packaging, and more.  Social media is now the most ubiquitous and most volatile element of your brand.

In social media, your customers are shaping what your brand means every single day.  Often times, you can help shape that conversation by giving them assets and direction.  So why is your social media team playing with their own set of blocks while the rest of your organization marches to the same beat?  In few other places is consistency and coordination so important.

Below are the three reasons why most companies keep their social media team in a vacuum and what you should do about them:

1. We don’t understand social media so we don’t think it’s related to anything else we do.

a.    Get educated. Lean on your social media team to teach the rest of your organization and make the learning hands-on and mandatory.

2. Social media is the wild west and our social media team is a bunch of renegade cowboys.

a.    Fire them.  Social media is an important and serious marketing discipline.  If you wouldn’t hire the professionals managing your social media as Communications professionals, don’t hire them for social media.

3. Social media is too hot right now. Everyone wants a piece of the pie and I don’t want to step on any toes.

a.    Man up.  It’s time to decide who is going to be in charge of social media. Is it PR? Marketing? Digital agency?  E-Commerce?  A Social Media Expert? (please don’t).  Decide who is running the show and then force all the other players into the same room and make the decision clear.  Now we can all move forward with less jockeying for dollars and more discussions about how to make things a success.

Social media is too important to your brand and your customers to allow it to be derailed by any of these things.  Your social media work needs to be integrated into everything else you do.  Just as brand guidelines penetrate every level of your organization, so too should social media.  Inconsistency here is often worse than not showing up at all.

Paul Dyer

Alexa.com Top 20 Sites in the U.S.

  1. Google
  2. Yahoo!
  3. Facebook
  4. YouTube
  5. Myspace
  6. Wikipedia
  7. Windows Live
  8. Blogger.com
  9. Craigslist.org
  10. eBay
  11. Microsoft Network (MSN)
  12. Amazon.com
  13. Twitter
  14. AOL
  15. Go
  16. ESPN Sportszone
  17. CNN – Cable News Network
  18. Bing
  19. WordPress.com
  20. Flickr

Posted by on November 2, 2009.

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Categories: Social Media Insights & Trends

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At WCG, we have the honor of walking the halls of companies of all sizes and shapes every day.  It is an amazing experience.  The result is that we can often see trends emerging more quickly than a single company might due to this vantage point.  And this is our goal with Common Sense, our […]more →