Is the use of social media a science, an art form, or just new-fashioned commonsense? And if it’s the latter, who is going to tell the self-proclaimed Social Media Gurus?
Log into twitter, facebook or any other social networking platform and you will have at least one follower proclaiming to be a Social Media Guru! But is the use of social media really just commonsense, rather than a science or indeed an art form?
I’ve spent over sixteen years providing an integrated marketing and public relations mix to a wide range of clients and industry sectors, and during the latter period I’ve been learning, understanding and applying the principles of Web 2.0 in order to support my clients’ medium to long-term business objectives. But then my other half has a go!
Yep, Sarah launched her own social networking platforms, including a weblog…and within a relatively short period of time (4 months) she has more than 900 followers, and, she gets more comments and unique visits and return visits then anyone I know. So, is it a case that she has researched her audience, understands their needs and appreciates the hooks that grab them? Or, is she just using her commonsense? I’m sure she would say she’s just chatting with her friends and talking about the things that interest her and all her followers! But if she can do this without even trying then God knows what the self pro-claimed gurus should be able to achieve – right?
Here’s a prime example; she wrote a blog not too long ago and within 24 hours she received over 4000 unique visits to her weblog, secured an extra 300 followers and has received acknowledgements from as far afield as the US. Only this morning she received an acknowledgement and a supporting click through from a US-based author who has recently published a parenting book – I know, wow!
Of course there is a very important element of talking your audiences’ language – but then, that’s just commonsense! Here’s an observation; I’ve noticed that those who proclaim to be ‘Guru’s have relatively less followers and successes then those they approach! Plus, when you look at the applications they use then it would appear they don’t seem to really understand Web 2.0 at all, or at least don’t seem to be able to exploit the channels which are now readily available to all!
Ask any communications professional and they will tell you that the same rules of using social media apply as they do when using traditional-based media channels. After all, you wouldn’t use The Sun newspaper to communicate with a reader of the Financial Times! Well, not unless you were being really creative!
By the way, I’m not saying that my other half got lucky – not at all, in fact she seems to manage a very, very healthy response rate to every blog and tweet she producers. In fact, if there is any brand manager out there wanting to reach the mummy blogger community then you should be talking to her! Just be aware though, that my other half, like the other mummy bloggers she follows are not fools, and they understand the power of social networking very well, so approach with caution :)
For me the number of followers I have on twitter meets my audience preference – although this will always be evolving, and the social media platforms I have put in place enable me to achieve the objectives I need to have in place, but then I understand my audience, so therefore understand which platforms to use and when to use them. Likewise, I know a number of very competent communicators out there who provide online solutions to meet their clients’ needs perfectly.
What I do think however, is that commonsense is part of the mix, along with a clear strategy and understanding the end-game. But, if having access to broadband makes you a social media expert, then wouldn’t that mean every blogger and every twitter should be calling themselves a guru?
For me the use of social media is completely dependent on the strategy, the audience and the end result. So yes, I would say there is certainly an art to using social media for corporate use anyway; and in that respect the ‘art’ would be deciding which platform to use, how to use it and when to use it! The commonsense element would then be deciding if a social media platform should be used in the first place!
Photo acknowledgement: Thank you to Peter Metzinger