In Part II of our three-part series on business and social media, Nicholson tells us what big lessons he learned from the conference about how businesses should use social media and what issues companies will face when entering the social media arena.
By Ed Nicholson
This was the third BlogWell conference I’ve attended.
The overarching takeaway for me, after hearing a number of presentations at the three events, is that there’s an incredible diversity of ways organizations are engaged in the social Web. Each organization needs to find the appropriate way to use the tools.
In the best examples, social networking strategy is built on top of an effective overall communications strategy. The declaration, “We need a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a blog!” should be followed by the question, “Toward what objective?” The Web landscape is littered with abandoned vehicles for which there was no clear destination at the start of the journey.
ROI and Disclosure
There’s an enormous interest in how we measure and derive ROI from social media engagement. While there are some widely-used tools (some of which might come at a fairly steep price), it’s generally agreed that the science for doing this has not matured. Of course, there’s also the growing sentiment that the way we’ve always measured traditional media ROI might need an overhaul in the “Age of Conversation.”
Disclosure is also a universal best practice. Andy Sernovitz, founder of the Blog Council, gives an excellent talk at each of the BlogWell events on the subject. Whether one is commenting on a blog post, sponsoring blog coverage, managing a Twitter account, or working on behalf of the company in any other online capacity, full disclosure and transparency is always the best policy. The companies who have adopted social media engagement guidelines and policies for their employees always make it primary component.
Part of the Discussion
If there’s any passion around your brand (and aren’t we all looking for that?), conversations and communities will arise, whether the company is an active participant or not. Those conversations can sometimes be messy and uncomfortable for the brand, but most companies agree they’d rather play a role in hosting them themselves.
(Part II of III. Tomorrow, Nicholson shares info from three business and social media case studies featuring Coca-Cola, General Electric and Nokia.)
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