Social media – does it really work? And three more questions…

Social media is (was) supposed to be the silver bullet for better and interactive contacts between customers and companies, between citizens and public officials, between activists and stakeholder groups.

But is it? Does it really work? Or do I simply ask for too much, too quick? And why are we as consumers accepting this state of affairs?

I am not speaking about the number of likes on a Facebook page, pins on Pinterest, retweets on Twitter. I’m speaking about real constructive interaction between a customer and a company. Is social media becoming another hype that “has to be embraced” and then turns into yet another failed communications tool? One reads in the papers about how someone tweeted and got a job, someone else got a new ticket, a third won against a company and got a failed product replaced. But is this all? It feels like having 200 TV stations while only watching 2.

In a sense it reminds me about when e-mail and e-commerce came (yes, my dears there was a time before “e” and I remember that time) and how we whom already worked with both advised corporate strategists and communicators “Answer e-mails within 24 hours during the working week and 48 hours in the weekend. And put in place an automatic answer to the sender and say this so the customer knows what to expect.” These advice seems to be gone with the wind. I don’t expect instant contact but I do expect contact within the above given time frames. But after implementing social media (mostly I get the feeling this means a Facebook page and a corporate Twitter account) companies seems to feel that they are relieved from this. Because: “We have social media, so we remain in contact with our customers.” But it is still far too often the same one way communication and no real contact with us as customers. Sometimes I feel that the so often beleaguered public sector actually is better and more responsive than private companies when it comes to customer contacts. Even if customers is not the correct term when it comes to the public sector but I trust you understand what I mean.

And to answer my third question:

No, I don’t think I ask for too much too quick. On the contrary, I feel we as consumers are quite wonderful in our patience.

Even if the “I have always had Internet” generation is just coming of age, PC’s and various forms of digital interconnectivity have been around so long they are an inherent part of our every day lives, professional and private, so having grasped how to work with on-line tools (which after all is what Social media are) should be a normal as pen and paper. As should developing services that actually use the opportunities this brings rather than just automating old badly working paper based processes. But from what I see, it doesn’t seem to happen.

But I have no answer to my fourth question – do you?

And what can we as corporate communicators do to change the situation and to turn our organisations into leaders in the area?



5 svar till “Social media – does it really work? And three more questions…

  1. Very ro the point Sara! Thank you for your pointedly scatch of the situation. There are many so many points I would like to pick up but I’ll try to limit it to one.
    You ask:

    And what can we as corporate communicators do to change the situation and to turn our organisations into leaders in the area?

    Not at all a senseless question. The answer is yet even less surprising: you need your communication qualities to inspire, distill and master change.

    And the start of it? to me it Start’s with the planning of it.
    If you are up and ready for becoming social you should set up yourself for Interaction. That’s 1. in the right choice of plattforms (and facebook is NOT Social Media’s only holy grale, alas – I personally favor a blog as central point because you own it and you can invite and share from there use tw, fb, yt etc as outposts of it, make it the heart and home of your community; and 2. putting down interaction as an explicit goal (with approriate KPIs). That will have to be approved 3. by C-level. And than the grinding work starts…. Define new processes such as interaction guidelines. Review existing processes…
    Processes and tools, editorial content, all has to be benchmarket to interaction. If it’s over 25% one way phone housing the consumers with campaigns. Forget interaction. Invite people nominally to you. 4. Create ambassadors that work internally to change culture with you and look for them externally because they offer you true and honest opinion of what your comms really do to them.

    5. Put in place reportings and processes that let people read, learn, understand and consider this input. Call out projects (internally and externally (content might differ) that helps lthem to work what needs to change.
    6. work it, celebrate it. Think of tools such as a tumblr similar internal paper that shows e.g. customer satisfaction quotes, or product quality ideas or blogger contest input in an involving way.

    7. review, adapt and adopt.

    8. have fun doing it 🙂

    Thank you.


  2. Hi Sara
    You might be interested in the results of this research into how social media helped a rural community in Britain to build familiarity and demand for high speed broadband.
    Best wishes


  3. Old enough to have followed the rise of email and social media, and the conversion from one-way communication to customers to two way, I, too am a skeptic on social media results. It’s a wonderful tool, but the noise is staggering. I think one way a company may set itself apart is by saving posts for truly significant things. If all companies jump onboard social media, the boat tips over and we all drown in a sea of communication overload and social media irritation.


  4. The most strange or negative feature in most of the social networking site I noticed is that they do not allow to add new people whom you want to be connected with. All you can do without any hastle to add your friends and relatives or the people you know already. Why do I need to add them in social sites whom I meet and get to talk in person frequently? I am not saying you can’t add new people in these sites but in general that is not what they support spoteneously.



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