Last week I attended Amplified 08, a network of networks with the aim of making the UK the most connected place in the world. Several topics were up for discussion but one that really grabbed my attention was the topic of social media in business. It was a good session with many valid points made but I felt it could and should run on. With that, here’s my take on the subject.

A lot of businesses these days are grabbing the bull by the horns and setting up blogs, twitter accounts, Facebook groups and the like.  The problem I feel is that most of them are getting it so wrong that they might as well not bother.

One mistake that is often being made is that the job of marketing is generally left to the marketing department or worse, outside marketing consultants.  Sure these people have their place but they should not be the ones blogging and tweeting.  That responsibility needs to fall to the people doing the good stuff that you want to blog about.  In some cases the job is even given to the IT Department…  Huge fail there…  Your IT guys know lots about supporting your business but as they don’t DO the business it isn’t something they can really tell the world about.

The biggest mistake being made is that businesses are generally following the traditional marketing model:

  • The people doing the good stuff give the info to marketing
  • Marketing put some spin on it and make it shiny
  • Directors approve it
  • Marketing force feed the public with the lovely shiny information
  • End

I’ll give them some credit though…  Sometimes they do surveys…  Hehehe…  Yeah that works…  NOT

The most important thing about social media is that it is SOCIAL.  This means you have to engage with your market.  Talk to them and most importantly LISTEN to them.  It has never been so easy or cost effective to give people what they want.  And what do they want?  They want to be involved.  Or at least to feel like they are involved in some way.  Social media is about bonds and bonds have to be adhesive at both ends.

Let’s put it this way, when you meet someone you do you:

A) Hit them

B) Shake their hand

The same rules of engagement apply when communicating business to business.  Oh yes, you can use social media between businesses too.  There are a wealth of applications out there for creating networks and sharing information.  LinkedIn is a rather good starting point for basic networking.

The problem is that businesses (or those that are at the top of them) just don’t understand social networking.  Maybe the regional teams for Amplified could think about giving seminars and workshops to businesses in their areas to help them better understand and make use of the technology that we geeks have been using all this time.

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