IMG_20121112_195135Social Media – FAQ’s

 Q1. We have a website that is fairly informative. Isn’t that enough?

A website is like a departmental store and the information contained therein is like the goods displayed on the shelves. But what good is a store if there are no customers? Customers are “web traffic”, the visitors to your website / store. Social media is one of the ways of attracting the right eyeballs and engaging your customers so that the traffic to your store increases.

Q2. Our website has buttons that link to our facebook page. Ain’t that social media integration?

Social media integration is a continuous process, a way of life. It is about being present where your potential customers look for the kind of goods and services you provide and engaging them so that they may honour you with their gracious visit. Just as building a temple does not ensure the visit of the devoted, creating a facebook page does not, automatically translate into traffic. And what good is a God without the faithful singing his paeans?

Q3. We spent a packet building our website, which the vendor claimed is Search Engine OptimisedIMG_20121113_204341 (SEO-ed). Do we still need to go in for Social Media presence?

A website is like the visible part of an iceberg. What remains hidden, underwater is the back end, where the SEO activities take place. In a dynamic web order, where the search engines are operational on a real time basis, searching, evaluating and ranking sites, a one-time SEO activity is not only a misnomer, but is also counter-productive. It takes two to tango and if the Search Engines are to be embraced, enticing them to propel you upwards, you have to play the game their way, according to their rules. If you don’t? Well, you can rest assured that the iceberg will do to your Titanic what it has been doing to Titanic’s even before the movie was made.

Q4. We have a crack corporate communication team that has been handling our media releases effectively for many years now. Do we need to make the transition into the Social Media?

Journalists, like all humans, begin any story these days by Google-ing (searching in the net) about the company they want to write about. Naturally, for providing the information they seek, one has to have a presence in the net. The richer such information is, and the ease with which it can be accessed is often the factor that decides how “good” the story will be. Reports in the traditional media gets dated and discarded as opposed to those in the new, digital media which makes a quality presence there in an absolute must for any Corp. Comm. department worth its release.

Q5. Isn’t it all about allowing employees to “Facebook” in company time at our expense?

Gone are the days when flogging employees to perform was the norm. Today, it is an accepted fact that employees are the best brand ambassadors that an entity can have, and are encouraged to spread the cheer about the company, its goods and services, especially within their own spheres of influence. Employee responses (because of their firsthand knowledge about the entity and their sense of belonging and loyalty), even in the most hostile of environments, is much more emotionally honest and aboveboard than those of, even the most erudite of the outsourced spin doctors.

IMG_20121116_165519A Social Media Policy, well drafted and followed with the seriousness it deserves is capable of ironing out all the glitches, either actual or perceived.

Q6. Does it cost an arm and a leg?

 Contrary to popular perceptions, social media campaigns do not cost the Earth. Certainly not if you consider the long term benefits that accrue – be that refurbishing the salience of your brand, or the management of online reputation, or information dissemination or engaging in pure customer / stakeholder relations –  an efficient and effective Social Media campaign pays for itself many times over.

Q7. My cousin’s daughter is an online junkie – isn’t she the right person to do the job for us?

A good social media campaign straddles various fields (like communication, psychology, advertising and branding to name a few) which are strung together by the keen understanding and knowledge of the working of the internet in general and social media in particular. While kids today are extremely net savvy, they often lack the holistic approach needed to help a brand find and create its niche, apart from building and working on its unique personality, its USP’s. Sachin Tendulkar was given the go-ahead to wield the willow for the Nation at a tender young age, (and we all know the history that followed) but so was Parthiv Patel and many others. Fact is, while young rookies make good stories, they seldom have the wherewithal to deliver, especially when all the world becomes their stage (and social media, is more global in its reach that we can even imagine).

Q8. What is the key driver of Social Media?

The key driver, if there ever was one, is content. Content is the king and makes or mars the social media initiativeIMG_20121112_152214 irrespective of everything. Because of its very nature of being extremely democratic in its purport and it’s just and equitable nature, tall claims and air bubbles get pricked easily, which leads one to the first rule of social media engagement – be honest and say it straight. Social media is not about paid advertisements where one can hide behind pretty pictures and dense sermonizing – here it is all about straight talk, sans the mincing of words.

Q9. Is social media optimized content different?

Writing to engage Search Engines requires an understanding of how such engines act, operate and generally go about their chores. Being logic driven, they are highly evolved in the art of shifting the grins from the chaff and it takes a special kind of skill to tell them things that sound like music to their ears (or algorithm, or whatever). In as much, the web optimized content is different as writers have to keep in mind a plethora of issues like key-word density, meta tags, the propensity towards skim reading and things like that – Geek speak.

Q10. What should we guard against while going about integrating ourselves in the social media?

Social media is the new frontier. And like all frontier areas, it is full of mavericks, charlatans and guns for hire out to make a fast buck, people who will not bat an eyelid before pulling the trigger. That is why, the need for identifying the right partner with the requisite skill sets cannot be over emphasised. The list of entities that have made wild dashes into the realm only to be hoist in their own petards too is nothing less than impressive. That is why Parental Guidance, especially for those yet to get off age in the digital world is strongly advised.