Filed under: Corporate Social (Media) Responsibility | Tags: new social media mistakes, OrCom, Organizational Communication, Philippines, UP Manila
Dear Philippine companies that want to use, or are using new social media:
I love new social media; I love companies more when I discover that they attempt to make conversations online. Beyond corporate news, product releases, and other static content in company websites, I laud efforts to make meaningful connections with old, new, and possible customers. But for corporations who have been in business longer than I have been whipping out PR plans (which is, err, one year), businesses that have so many educated people at their disposal, new social media boo-boos are appalling.
Sure, new social media (NSM) hasn’t been around long enough for anyone to become a new social media expert. NSM has too many web applications under its hood that one can easily be overwhelmed. Regardless, citizens across the globe have been using new social media without a degree in it, and many have done just fine leveraging it for their causes–personal or altruistic. By just using their heads, companies can execute NSM-oriented engagement plans, and succeed.
For many reasons–such as resistance to NSM, treating NSM as a fad, or not giving NSM the same value as that of tried-and-tested traditional media tools–companies have been making many mistakes in their new social media practices.
Some New Social Media Mistakes:
1. Indiscriminately signing up for every NSM site
Now I’m all for democracy and fair-play–but establishing company presence in just about any NSM site you can sign up for is foolish. Some companies in the Philippines do just this–they have accounts in Facebook, Multiply, Twitter, Ning, Plurk, and YouTube since they operate under the principle that the more online accounts you have, more people will know about the business.
We know that’s not true. Signing up for many accounts is like shooting darts in any part of a room–misguided and destructive. Chances are, you won’t be able to update every account properly. Having too many online accounts can only confuse and annoy people.
What you companies can do, is to determine what NSM tools their market uses. Start from there, and deliberate on where exactly you want your company to be seen.
Same information posted across different sites is a problem. Why would I subscribe to both Multiply and Facebook company accounts when both have the same content? Re-directing links is usually fine, but to have more or less the same information on your NSM accounts is sad.
If not the same information across different sites, having multiple accounts in one NSM site is also a problem. GMA, for example, has 3 Twitter accounts. Each has a special function–wwwGMAnewsTV syndicates content from the GMA News site, GMA7news is for GMA News at the TV station, and the GMAnews_live is for live tweets, like when Pacquiao had a match, or when Cory Aquino was laid to rest. But news is news, I myself don’t think about whether I’d rather subscribe to news from the TV station, or news from the website. As a result, only one Twitter account has thousands of subscribers, since people wouldn’t probably notice that there are 3 existing accounts.
You are better off streamlining their NSM tools, and deciding what content gets posted where (assuming a company has more than one NSM base). Skittles, for example, made their company website an aggregate of the NSM accounts they use–Flickr, Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. While the move received much negative criticism, I think what they did was infinitely better than having too many accounts having the same information anyway.
3. Overactive and inactive accounts
You may be flooding your consumers with too many updates, not all of which are relevant. Imagine a pastry shop flooding its Multiply contacts about photos of her shih tzu puppy, or asking where s/he can buy an iPod Nano for cheap. Way to make your customers (who only want bread, cookies, and cakes) happy!
Or, you may have an inactive site–which is a classic problem for Filipino companies, as Abe Olandres of Yugatech said. Signing up is easy, but sustaining your presence–which is expected by customers–is the real challenge. Your readers want to get information from you, so if your band decides to make webisodes on YouTube, make sure that you post more than one webisode to keep fans entertained. Otherwise, the hype you made for your fans would turn into disappointment or anger.
Have a dedicated team to work on your company’s new social media presence. Perhaps a schedule for posting would keep accounts from dying, and help in listening and speaking with customers.
I could go on and make a longer list, but I know you already get the point. Some mistakes are unforgivable because you just need to be sensitive to your consumers’ needs. Would you like to sign up for twenty accounts because that’s where your restaurant of choice engages customers? Would you like to be swamped with a hundred updates a day because your favorite company wants to reach out to you? Would you be endeared to a company because of its boo-boos? I don’t think so.
The next time you make conversations with your consumers, please be more conscientious. I honestly believe you can succeed, if you take new social media a bit more seriously (the way you fret over sales plans and publicity strategies). Thank you very much.
Alvina Antonio, New Social Media Kid
2. I deliberately did not post links to all companies that made boo-boos with their social media practices. I did not write to destroy reputations, but to remind you companies that you can engage us in NSM so much better.
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