Friday Sep 19, 2008

Guest Post - Why is the UK not getting social media ?

Three things got me annoyed yesterday:

1) Not being at Web2expo - i'll get over that, i'm trying to get to Berlin ;-)
2) Preparing for a practical workshop on blogging only to realise that 75% of the time is going to be spent explaining what tags are and rss is rather than discussing how they can be of benefit to a business.
3) Control freaks - people who think that a little bit of knowledge think they know it all (won't go into that one!)

In particular, number two got me thinking that as a country, we are woefully under-educated when it comes to social media. Why are we still having conversations about what these tools are rather than what they can do for you?

I'd like to throw a few thoughts into the hat and see what people like Neville, Stephen, Steve, Becky, Will, Dave, Robin, Hugh, Jas, Stuart and maybe even Chris, Brian, Geoff and Pete have to say:

Concept
Is online social interaction (the principle of people/customers meeting online to share things and meet each other) SO far beyond people's grasp they just do not get what happens and what people do?

Prejudice
The idea that without your work hat on, "I don't use the internet like that , so why would my customers?"

Growth/Choice
Does the rate of change/growth of new social media tools scare IT departments or marketing/pr teams that anything they may decide to adopt may be obsolete in a few months? What about the sheer number of tools they could use? Is it realistic to expect a marketeer to keep track of everything that goes on?

Technology

Are we  our own worst enemies? Do we like to talk XML, php, css and other jargon too much that we actually alienate the very people we are hoping to adopt the tools we talk about?

Control

This relates nicely in fact, to point number three. People who have traditionally been in total control of their customers (when their customers didn't know any better) are now petrified that they can't control what their customers are saying. Burying their heads in the sand won't work.

Previous tools such as websites, direct mail, press ads and email were great at telling customers what the brand wanted them to hear but now marketeers have to get their heads around the fact that those same recipients are talking back – just that they are telling other customers not them!

Tone of Voice

After decades of talking AT customers, brands are now having to talk TO customers. How do you talk to people you have spent years ignoring what they say? How should you speak to them? Learning THAT takes either a lot of listening, training or plenty of both.

Social Media Tools are "a phase" of internet growth

Several years ago (early 90's), when working for a large mail order company, the whole business began gearing up for this "internet" thing that was coming.

HR were booking training sessions for people like there was no tomorrow , business-wide email was starting to roll-out and you could sense that people knew something big and important was going to happen. 15 years and 1 billion online users later - they were right.

The impression I get of what many of us might call the proverbial "sea-change" in the internet is that social media and its associated tools are nothing more than evolution rather than revolution.

I'll end with some links to a couple of great posts, (from Suw who is organising the blogger outreach for the Berlin Web2 Expo and the legendary BL Ochman)all around exactly what I am talking about above as well as the Chris's 12 reasons why he thinks the UK isn't blogging or adopting social media tools:

1 - You don't understand why you'd want a business blog. Neither does your CEO.

2 - You are the CEO. And you're not going to allow your minions to blog.

3 - You think it is too risky to allow your colleagues to write blog posts.

4 - Your PR agency thinks blogging is a bad move.

5 - You mentioned something to the techies. It is in their development schedule.

6 - You haven't figured out who will contribute to the blog, or what you will write about.

7 - You can't see any benefits whatsoever. It would be a waste of time.

8 - You don't see any return on investment. It would be a loss leader. We don't do loss leaders.

9 - You have no clue about how to set up a blog.

10 - You think blogging is all hype / a passing fad / for kids.

11 - You are happy to ignore blog activity in the US. The US is a totally different environment for this sort of thing.

12 - You think blogging isn't right for your business.

This is a guest post taken from Paul's Blog  Blending the mix, Paul is a Client Services Manager at Digital Marketing Agency KMP. Part of his role is  to understand how best our clients can embrace social networks and blogging.

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