While most of the media tries to convince business people that they should all run to use social media asap, I beg to differ. The step is simply too big, especially for market leaders. You make a business page for your company, brand or product? I will use it against you! What you have effectively done is made a media channel with all your customers for anyone to use!
Sure you could lock down the wall, but then “that’s not very social media”. You can monitor the wall 24/7/365 but if you take an offensive post down you might get a consumer backlash for “censorship” and “that’s not very social media”. Despite being an early proponent of social media in business I think you really need to define your targets and then look even more carefully at potential risks. I am not the only person being hired to ruin companies and brands through social media.
It sort of gives a different ring to the term “viral”. You know that kitch email chain letter you received? Well, chances are it started from someone out to hit a competitor’s market share. It is just much easier to knock off 5% of sales from a competitor than to get a 5% increase yourself.
So yes, you need to watch what is happening in social media. As traditional media crumbles, these are exciting times for anybody in the business of communication. And yes, you might find that many new tools are really cost effective. But they have far reaching implications to your organization’s structure and inner workings. Which don’t always make business sense. I have tried to change companies through their communication and it doesn’t work easily, especially when top management doesn’t change first in a very public way. It is like trying to change a company through it’s IT infrastructure.
As we all talk about leaving hierarchical structures behind and how media is becoming decentralised, it is useful to remind ourselves that most companies are still very hierarchical and centralised. And for good reason.
P.S. Some people have arrived at this post through extremely narrowly targeted Facebook ads; don’t worry, you are the only one that saw that provocative material and as soon as I see you have clicked through I will take it down… ; )