Communication SkillsSelling Skills

Social media doesn’t work

According to today’s Research Brief from the Center for Media Research, social media doesn’t work to build brand, extend relationships or to impact buying decisions. In fact, they say:

A study, recently released by WorkPlace Media, outlines some of the hurdles facing major brands as they attempt to harness the worlds of Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, to create an impact with consumers.The study, which polled office Internet users, found that 55% maintained at least one social networking account. However, of those respondents, only 43% reported accessing their social networking accounts at work, and even for those with access, 78% reported spending less than 30 minutes per day on their site(s).

They are wrong.

They’re looking in a rear view mirror and if you remember the singer, Meat Loaf (and who doesn’t?!) then you know, “Objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are.”  There was a time when studies like this would have been true about owning an automobile, a phone, or inside plumbing.

It’s true that many companies today don’t allow their associates to check social media sites during work hours. They’re afraid that they’ll spend too much time being social and not enough time working. I get that. It’s pretty addictive and if work is boring…

The thing is that conversation, communication, collaboration and connection are taking place today, right this second, on line within social media sites. Using Twitter, for instance, I’ve communicated with people and even arranged times to meet and when we’ve meet, we’re already friends. Yesterday, on FaceBook a colleague asked for donations for a meeting. At last count, she had 10 confirmed donations. And don’t get me started on how much I’ve learned through others comments on their blogs, LinkedIn discussions, and even the 140 character Twitter tweets. Social media provides the village we need today.

WorkPlaceMedia/Center for Media Research cited additional findings to support their message:

A recent Harris poll also supported this assertion, says the report, showing that word of mouth is a much stronger influencer than social networking.

Here is the thing: Social media is word of mouth.

Backwards looking folks don’t get that. But if what the “research” is saying is that we trust our friends more than a random on-line comment,  I agree whole heartedly. Except that my definition of friends has expanded beyond the people I break bread with. Am I a bit skeptical when I see four negative comments on a site and then one that says this place rocks? Of course. Anonymity allows evil. If my on-line friends – people I’ve chosen to follow on Twitter, for instance, or a friend of a friend on Facebook or a member of a LinkedIn community group – tell me something, I have no more reason to be skeptical than if my neighbor told it to me. (And I might ask both of them to give me more examples..)

If you’re looking for excuses to not join the social networking community, you’re looking in the wrong direction. Look forward to expand possibilities, persuasion and profits.

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