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The New Landscape of Social Networking on the Job

Years ago, being on MSN or any instant messaging service at work could cost you your job–let alone perusing on social media/networking sites during work hours. I admit, I was among the ballsy few at work to be on MSN; but I often used it for work-related reasons and for multi-tasking purposes. (Keyword is often.) For example, I used it to stay in touch with other professionals–often specializing in their fields where I can ask them for some advice in their area of expertise such as accounting, HR, IT, and so on. Or to obtain information about their industry. Checking my Facebook profile, however, is something I stay away from. Because it is mostly–if not entirely–irrelevant to work. I also refrain from viewing Youtube links forwarded by friends and colleagues. (Even the Chairman sent me these links! It’s a good thing I’m not that into watching viral videos.) But that was then, things are very different these days.

Today, there are “Social Media Coordinator/Marketer” and “Social Media Maven” types that do these things for a living. Their mandate is to be on top of the latest social media/networking trend to be blogged and tweeted about. Additionally, to create, maintain and update these social networking accounts to stay connected with current and potential clients for their business. Fans and followers of these pages can opt-in or -out at a click of a mouse. And it is highly effective because most people don’t opt-out of these pages (even though the messages they receive provide no value to them) because Facebook is pointless when there is little or no activity going on with your account. Also, you can easily start with a small fan base starting with your friends and close supporters.

But there are a number of setbacks associated with SMM, such as spending too much time on SMO which detracts from more important things like operating your business. I’m sure a lot of marketers follow new media mavens such as Godin, Scoble, or Scott and simply follow every single rule to a T. For the most part, their understanding of this new form of PR and marketing and ability to communicate this process is highly influential, but are social media sites becoming too saturated with business pages?

There are many follies that come along with SMM. Spending too much time focusing on SMM can be detrimental to the productivity of your business. Your core business should be focused on improving your product or services and generating sales. Many e-businesses are placing a lot of energy into maintaining their Facebook and Twitter accounts which may do very little to contribute to sales. Great advertising tool, but do not necessarily translate to sales. Ideally your social sites or pages should be a vehicle to communicate and for driving traffic back to your company site. Use these sites to announce important changes and updates about your site, services, or products. But instead of actually pursuing sales, some companies are spending too much time building and sustaining their communities. And new age marketers would tell you not to put forth a sales pitch–because that would scare off your “fans”.

The other mistake I find some businesses make is that they spend too much time in upkeeping these sites. This can sometimes become a nuisance to their client base. For example, imagine you opted in to one of your favourite brands or e-shops newsletters email campaign. It’s great when they send you notifications of sales and new items. Receiving these e-flyers are cool maybe once or twice a month. Some may do a weekly campaign–which hasn’t annoyed you yet. But once the e-flyers become too frequent, you will become annoyed of constantly having to delete unwanted messages on a daily basis. Most customers won’t mind if you don’t send out too many promotions. In fact, sometimes it is a good idea to put in gaps between campaigns. Your customers won’t forget you. They will be reminded of your brand by the occasional communication you send out. You will also less likely be on their “to opt-out” list.

Another problem with SMM is the problem of fad platforms. The constant changes in the online world leave businesses constantly scrambling for the next big thing. While most major sites do have longevity; nevertheless, things change in the online world, and they change fast. Technologies change, trends change, people change, and sites have to change to keep up. Just look at Google or Yahoo! or MSN! Sometimes, this relentless pursuit to stay in the race can turn audiences off. Even when it doesn’t, audiences can grow tired, old, and out of a particular SNS. Students procrastinated their papers and studying for exams because they were so hooked on chatting on IMs such as MSN. Then, it was MySpace. Now, Facebook and Twitter. Don’t be surprised when you no longer feel the need to sign in to your IM, log on to Facebook, or tweet what you’re currently doing.

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August 11, 2009 • #, #, #, #, #, #, #, #


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