May 3 2010
By Priya Ramesh
I make it a point to emphasize to my clients at CRT-tanaka that social media is NOT for all and it’s not a mere check mark on the marketing plan. There needs to be some strategic thinking behind engaging on social networks with a clearly thought out goals as noted PR metrics veterans Katie Paine and Shonali Burke would say. But let’s take two steps back before considering social media engagement and ask the following questions:
- Do you have a product/service that you are confident of?
- Are you willing to take both positive and constructive
feedback and DO something about it?
- Does your company believe in an open culture?
- Does your company encourage employees to become company evangelists?
- Are you committed to expanding community engagement efforts once you get their attention?
Apple probably has a roaring “YES” to the first question above and a “No” to the rest. They have been constantly criticized for not doing enough to engage with their community. John Batelle and Tim O’ Reilly, founders of Web 2.0 Summit recently sent an open letter to Apple asking them to do a better job of social engagement.
Are you serious? I think we need to look at “engagement” differently when it comes to Apple. Is Steve Jobs blogging about the upcoming release? Does Apple have a Facebook fan page? Is Apple’s customer support responding to customer complaints on Twitter? A big “No” to all of those and they don’t need to because they have focused all their efforts in doing just one thing and doing it right. Apple builds products that revolutionize how other companies do business. Their products define how customers should start communicating online, this is a paradigm shift. There are hundreds of mentions of Apple’s products online on a daily basis and almost all of them are user generated product reviews.
By staying focused on one goal which is to deliver a disruptive product that consumers fall in love with, Apple has reaped the benefits of third party validations online, something a lot of companies struggle to achieve. A company’s products and services speak louder than their Facebook and Twitter updates. I understand not every company can be an Apple but my key point is that without a successful product that your customers find valuable, your social media engagement metrics may not look as appealing.
Like my mom would say to me growing up as a ten year old, “Let’s first ensure you develop a habit to keep your room clean before you start planning for sleepovers.” I think you get my point.
Chris Brogan, a social media realist did an excellent post on “The Building Blocks of Social Media for Business” that every company should think through. Don’t engage in social media just because everyone else is but if you do then let’s make sure we understand we are opening the doors to all kinds of feedback and be prepared to use that feedback to make positive changes.
As far as Apple is concerned, I don’t know about you but I think they ARE engaged in social media in a way that most companies aspire to. They have created a movement of followers who have created a perenial source of conversation both online and offline! What’s your take on that?
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