|Swimming Upstream|v2.0|

|Everything and Nothing|

Is social media dead?

Now before you run off and go cry in the corner and update your Facebook status from your phone slating me for treachery against your beloved Facebook, My Space and Twitter networks, consider the following…are you really connecting or just self-promoting?

This subject was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago and I, like you, blatantly chose to ignore it due to my overwhelming belief in the growing world of social media.

Firstly, let me argue the point and hopefully it will give you a different perspective on the dismal use of social media in South Africa.  I refer to South Africa specifically because in terms of social media, South Africa is somewhat behind when it comes to the full integration of technology and social media in the work place and consumer orientated industries.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many companies out there that are slowly but surely starting to jump onto the social media bandwagon in the form of blogs and the use of Twitter as a “pseudo customer care line” or “trouble shooting” avenue.

Many colleagues of mine have expressed their frustration with the use of social media in South Africa an

d the limiting factors of such a service.  My “tweeps” (the “tweeps” being colleagues in the business, “tweeps” is a derivative of the words Twitter and “Peeps”, which in turn is a colloquialism for the word “people” *ahem*) in the business have expressed such concerns that they are waiting for “the next big th

ing”, or simply something new?  When will it come? What will it be? And if so, who will be at the forefront of this new social media orientated tech?  Those working on the “pseudo forefront of digital marketing” and “mobile technology” feel as though we, as South African’s have not necessarily begun to use social media as a viable business tool to develop online interactivity between brand and consumer.

There are at present, over 200 million blogs on the Internet, how many of those are personal blogging orientated is s

till to be determined, but with this flux of “soul bearing” text and personal banter on the Internet, how effective is it all really?  If you look hard enough some of “the success stories” can be found, stories that cover “old school bloggies” that put their foot in the door long before the craze hit and who have now gone on to sell 2 or 3 blogs of their own.  This “money for jam” movement has prompted everyone from all walks of life including the ever popular “Mommy Bloggers” who have made successes of themselves by documenting and blogging about the trials and tribu

lations of Mother hood, yes, including the mental process that is involved in breast-feeding…interesting hey?  If you haven’t taken a turn passed some of the many “Mommy Bloggers”, I suggest you give them a peak, even if it’s just the curiosity that gets the better if you.  You’ll find that most of the “MB’s” (Mommy Bloggers) out there are simply dispensing advice and others are just using the Internet as an outlet, which is relatively acceptable in my book.

Again, I ask, is any of it valuable? Is there any value in making an impact on everyday life and productivity of corporate companies through social media?  It’s no surprise that most of the more established and “old brands” say, “they don’t get Twitter…” and I don’t blame them, my parents can barely work their cellular phones let alone email and internet.  Recently, I was asked to explain what Facebook was to my father…I compared the conversation to what I would think teaching a child about life and death was…yes, it was that intensive…!  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy sharing knowledge, but when you’re asked questions such as…”why would you want to be chat to people from all over the world”…and…”but who are they”…well, you can say, the mindset is just of a different generation.  After digressing ever so slightly, a study through Mashable .com has shown that many of the Fortune 100 Companies use social media, but don’t use it effectively enough!  This lack of effectiveness in the social media sphere has been highlighted by the following quote:

“Because the analysis was conducted between August 28 and September 4, 2009, it’s possible that some companies have made some improvements in their approach to Twitter within the last couple of months. One thing is for sure, however: a dramatic shift needs to happen for most of these companies to effectively make use of the platform.

When these companies do take a look at their strategy and use of social media, they need to realize that the key element missing is conversation. Twitter, and social media in general, is about two-way communication, which is something that all companies need to realize as they constantly evaluate and tweak their social media use. Companies should also reconsider whether to use a person that is identified with an account, which could improve their engagement and build a personable brand.”

What this study has highlighted is that most of the companies trying to embrace the social media movement are using the online services as a means to have an online presence more than anything else, a lackadaisical approach that will inevitably leave these “well established and innovative” companies in the dust, eventually riding the coat tails of younger companies who have been getting it right from the very beginning (Attempting to pat myself on the back now!).  If these companies claim to…”just not get it”…then why not expand their in-house marketing division to encompass digital and social media and have a “team” of consultants looking after issues of this matter…and I say “team”, because if anyone has tried their hand at some kind of advanced social media marketing will know that it really is a full-time-blady-job and unfortunately the eventual reason for them not expanding is greed and supposed unnecessary expenses…it’s sad really if you think about it.

To go back to the issue of social media in South Africa, I think that apart from companies not embracing social media as an online service to connect with consumers, companies are allowing their minimal online presence to portray that of a “faceless” one.  I can testify that there is nothing worse than receiving “pseudo company updates” and newsletter highlights on my Twitter Feed…and then to make matters worse, there’s always an inconsistency and one can easily see when “Joe Blogger” (…see what I did there, a social media twist on the generic name Joe Blogs *ahem*) gets his grubby little accountant-like paws on the companies Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn Account and sends personalized updates…wow…don’t do it Joe, just don’t f-cking do it!

One of the many wishy-washy points I’m trying to make here is that without someone or a team of people looking after a corporate social media presence, that company’s online presence will depreciate in value, and online value is measured in interactivity, personalization and a balance between “work and play” so-to-speak.

As a final point, what seems to be growing from strength to strength in South Africa is the embracing of the mobile movement in social media.  As cellular phones become more and more advanced with the developments in android and smart phone technology, social media is developing the “way it should be”…with a mobile driven orientation.  There are various companies developing their own “mobi-sites” creating a connection to an entirely different demographic, a younger, more engaging and most of all, mobile generation of consumers.  Mobile is the future, heed my words techie guru’s! (Thanks Nic.)

To end off, here’s a short summary of the way it should be done

12 factors to “my knowledge” to remember when handling a corporate Social Media Account:

1. Balance company information and easy “listening” tweets or posts.

2. Conversation is key.

3. Conversation is key. (Yes, I wrote it twice, now…write it down…twice!)

4. Attention is the new currency of the web.

5. Consumerism has shifted away from mass media to conversational media.

6. Respect your audience.

7. Respect your resources and always give direct references and “Retweets”.

8. Knowledge is the quintessential “trading merchandise” of now – kind of like soccer cards of the early 90’s.

9. “Usual Business” has been replaced by the “unusual”. “The unusual is driven by participation, freedom of choice and peer influence rather than control and command structures that steal joy of work and experiential learning”.

10. Stay focused on your industry.  Promoting knowledge and other subsidiary information through your online profile is considered “anti-social media”

11. If you are handling a corporate social media account, keep yourself up to date with advancing tech, educate yourself to stay ahead of the curve.

12. Have a social media strategy.  Without a strategy or initial proposal for the industry you’re in will inevitably leave you headed in the wrong direction entirely.

Write that down.


2 comments on “Is social media dead?

  1. David Alves
    February 3, 2010

    I completely agree with you on almost every aspect Monique. This you for the supportive comment and that you for the follow. I have not been up-keeping my blog the way I should be…so apologies for that.Firstly, my understanding of social-economics is limited to what I subjectively – even though I strive to be as objective as possible – read from the interent. They say, don't believe everything you see on TV…well, don't believe everything you read on the internet…I find the biggest issue with my online resourcing is sifting through the crap that is blantantly put out there by people who evidently don't have a cotten-picking clue about what's really going on…wow…could I name a couple! What I'm trying to get to very abruptly now is that I find soical media as the answer as you so eloquently put it, "to easily comment, complain, commend and get feedback on their contributions fast"…I really do believe in crowd sourcing! I think it is one of the best resource tools there are…!Unfortunately the new currency of the internet is attention, enivitably it always was, but now more so than ever before and social media has formed the tools to gain and battle for that attention. Sad to some, life-altering to others…I guess it depends on where you consider yourself drawn to…"socialmedia-whoring" or "blasay-internet-restlessness" – the decision is left to the key-puncher.

  2. Monique Boucher
    February 2, 2010

    Great post. You’re so right that we aren’t using social media to it’s full potential but I wonder if that’s a problem for us under that marketing/communication umbrella or the fact that our audience has dumbed down to the extent that they are herding sheep on Facebook?! Lol. All jokes aside I believe one of the biggest problems arises from this false expectation and lofty promises that social media will get you customers fast. Too many people see it as a form of advertising instead of an opportunity to listen and collaborate. Social media is just a communication tool, not a miracle cure for a crap product or bad service. I love the term ‘community building’ because that is essentially what it is, a medium that works on building communities around a passion for something. Companies need to tap into what their customers are passionate in order to attract their attention online. I manage a few social media accounts and its hard time consuming work. As you say it’s a full-time gig but people don’t get that. Fortunately I love it (most of the time). I find its good way to help people find information that they are looking for while offering them a way to easily comment, complain, commend and get feedback on their contributions fast. Social media can only do so much, the quality of the product/service and face-to-face customer is still the most important aspects of attracting and keeping happy customers.

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This entry was posted on February 2, 2010 by in Blogging, David Alves, Social Media, Twitter.
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