What’s the biggest obstacle facing social media today?

I ask this question in all seriousness. From my perspective it simply seems to be the huge amount of cynicism marketers face when they even mention the phrase ‘social media’. I understand this being a huge cynic myself. But this is one area I think ‘they’ might be wrong. Social media isn’t a panacea and it isn’t going to be right for every client – but I think that there are businesses that could benefit from getting involved in social media.

To explain, social media from my perspective is all about engagement and establishing a dialogue with your customers and suppliers – not ‘one’ or ‘two’ way but ‘three’ way communication – customers, colleagues and suppliers talking to you and even each other.

Of course there are some issues that you can’t and wouldn’t want to discuss in a public forum, but there are often areas where the ‘intelligence’ of the ‘collective’ can actually help a business and make it more efficient. One example someone mentioned to me recently was the ‘help desk’ function at Positive Solutions, a firm of financial advisers here in the UK. The ‘help desk’ is unique in so far as there isn’t one. If a member has a problem with a piece of software or how to do something they simply post the issue in a forum for ther members to answer. This apparently works highly effectively.

There are of course inherent risks with social media but those brands that are prepared to engage people openly and honestly and are prepared to give up control of the message have little to fear. Just be prepared to add value¬† – don’t attempt to exploit your audience. They will sniff you out from a mile away and make you pay…

Of course the alternative is that you avoid it like the plague – but consider this, just because you aren’t participating doesn’t mean that discussions about you and your company aren’t happening. Wouldn’t it be better for you to be there to represent your brand?

If you are interested in taking a more in-depth look at social media check out the following article from Clickz on how you can integrate it into your business.

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