Saturday, April 10, 2010

Using social media sends messages to employees and customers

What would a communicator’s blog be without a reference to Marshal McLuhan?

His famous pronouncement that “The Medium is the Message” is a consideration in all communications strategies. The medium (advertising, news conferences, newsletters, radio, events, websites, are just some examples of mediums) is as important as the timing, and whether live, in-person or virtual, the medium sends a message about more than simply the tool used.

Choosing interactive, on-line media says a lot about your business. Using social media tells prospective employees your business culture takes advantage of the latest technology and that a social media policy may be in effect. More critically, social media tells prospects, clients and partners they are important to your business because they are invited to be your fans on Facebook, to subscribe to e-newsletters, to respond to corporate blogs, to participate in product feedback, to engage on Twitter, and to connect one-to-one with your business in so many other ways.

When launching new products or announcing new services, media relations strategies are often teamed up with public and customer relations strategies. For example, Social Media Releases are being developed to include hyperlinks, standardized tags, media-rich content, and easily embedded postings. Now, companies who know their customers are engaged in online communities (who isn’t?) must incorporate social media strategies as part of their marketing and communications strategies.

Some companies are hesitant to get involved in social media in part because the term “social” conjures up images of out-of-control commenting, pictures not meant for the public eye, and misuse of company time and resources.

Changing the corporate mindset around social media could be as simple as renaming it as an Interactive On-line Media strategy. As part of a strategy, there becomes a business purpose for using these tools. And as any with medium, telephone, email, and letters as more traditional examples, policies and technologies can help business manage its reputation and presence in day-to-day as well as on-line interactions.