We operate in the era of perpetual online expansion. New forms of social networks and media channels continue to develop and grow all around us. As consumers, we have more options than ever before on who we talk to, how we communicate and share information, and where we spend our time. And companies, seeing the potential, have started to join us in this new space. Successful efforts by those early corporate adopters of social media have led to an increased demand for other companies and competitors to join in the race.
But as more and more companies look to focus their attention online, they run the risk of turning this platform into just another commercialized media outlet.
The social web was built for creativity. Companies that are most successful offer us genuine ideas, fun promotions, odd games and characters, and easy to find information. They use various networks to deliver one unique voice and help us discover things that we really want or need.
The problem comes when companies enter the space with no real plan or vision. Too often, the higher ups who control the money will consider online marketing just another form of advertising, throw some money at it, and leave it at that. Since they won’t take the time to understand it, they may decide that whatever it is that they are doing is not working, and abort or change the strategy.
Unfortunately, there are too many companies that are too conservative to do anything differently. We are in danger of allowing this online space to grow boring as more corporate blogs, and Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages discuss and share the same old information. There are now social media consultancies that offer to get you started and coach you through the social web. Content runs the risk of being generic and bland. And all of the sudden, you’ll have thousands of companies just promoting themselves slowly and sparingly with no real rhyme or reason.
True social media success, from a corporate perspective, really cannot be measured. At least not in dollars and cents like CEO’s are used to measuring everything else. It is a presence, an overall sense of being there for the consumer, a connection and personalization of brands and services.
This post from Chris Brogan goes through a list of things to measure for solid online content. It is important that as more companies go online and try to communicate with users that they generally put effort into it. If your company has a problem with communication or consumer backlash, throwing money at it will not make it go away.
Be real, be original, and save us from “social blanding”.