One of the questions I am constantly being asked is why should we even bother with social media? Surely this is just a waste of time and something employees should be doing in their spare time?
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Obviously if there was a straight forward answer to this it wouldn't be such a hot topic and something that crops up all the time. Well, there are two parts to this question and the easiest way to respond to why bother with social media - is the conversation is happening and any company or organisation or individual should take an interest in what is being said not only about them but also what people are interested in is important. If you are not how can you potentially influence the conversation and peoples opinion of you?
It is really not much different to keeping up with daily news, politics or what is generally happening around us. This really is just part and parcel of being an employee or a potential new employee. Then being part of the conversation is the next step and takes much longer and is more difficult to achieve. As many have said before me - and continue to say - you need to practice listening before being able to engage in a meaningful way. Be good at this first and then start by commenting on others peoples posts. Be part of the community and start networking - it is what you also do when you meet people face-to-face - say hallo and find a common point of interest.
So why is social media so powerful? A good example of the potential of social media and networking sites such as Twitter was recently clearly demonstrated through the @wossy (Jonathan Ross) and @stephenfry (Stephen Fry) conversation about Twitter on the first "Friday night with Jonathan Ross" show on BBC since @wossy was put on the "naughty step". I monitored Twitter while the show was broadcast and it was truely fascinating to see how the conversation was following exactly what was broadcast (despite this not being a live show).
Hitwise subsequently brought out some clever statistics that demonstrated the impact of the Ross conversation had on the live Twitter conversation:
As a result of this Stephen Fry is now number 4 in the World of Twitterholics and the impact of this conversation has proven greater than Obama inaugeration. BBC even reported that the Ross return managed to draw in more then 5 million viewers - now that is quite a figure.
Furthermore Stephen Fry increased his Twitter following from 50,000 to more than 80,000 in a mere week - a clear demonstration of the power of social media in my view.
This also shows that it is important to have a strategy to deal with social media - in the same way that most companies have a policy and strategy on how staff should use email or the internet. Any employer need to recognise that the web and how we now communicate has fundamentally changed - and part of this is how social media has changed the landscape substantially and will continue to do.
Companies need to make it possible for their staff to at the very least to monitor and respond (if this is appropriate - this is where the strategy comes in) to what is said in the social sphere. Social media users will very quickly cotton on to the fact if companies are in fact avoiding to engage. Finding the right strategy and how this should be formulated obviously depends on the business you are in and needs a lot of consideration.
What do you think? Does your company or organisation get the importance and power of using social media as a strategic option?