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Successful social media engagement for online businesses requires a lot of creative thinking, time and effort. Initially, the balance is tipped in favour of hard graft, dedication and eureka ideas and then you start to see some results. Better results and more followers means more time required to interact effectively with them.
A slippery slope or a stairway to heaven? Should we be spending all this time in the social web? Or is it time to take a step back and put the social media hype into perspective?
What did we (us marketing types) do before becoming absorbed in the social web? This question applies both professionally and personally. On reflection the answer is most probably linked to spending more time socialising and interacting with people, but in the real world.
Engaging face to face, talking, laughing, sharing, using all our senses as opposed to virtual chat and the insatiable checking of numbers; friends, followers, subscribers, views, fans etc.
Has social media affected the quality of our interactions with people? Will our social skills be degraded and will we all ultimately resort to online communications, spend our lives as slaves to the latest social media phenomenon? Thinking about Darwinism; will our future offspring in generations to come develop mobile phone shaped ears and mouse shaped hands, with very thin fingers to cope with the tiny keyboards on the latest mobile devices? Probably not.
The scary thing is, the more successful your social media engagement is, the more time you spend monitoring, measuring and managing your social media accounts; and the more time you spend doing it etc etc. It's a spiral, but is it upward or downward? At this point it's probably best to stop asking questions and start putting forward some opinion.
Here's how I see it:-
- We're on the downhill side of the Gartner "Hype" curve.
- We're all questioning the value, time and effort we spend in this area, both professionally and personally, even though we may not admit it.
- The majority and beyond are watching the innovators and early adopters with interest. Will social media cross the "chasm" and become a key element in every organis ation's engagement strategy? I feel the answer will be "yes" but in moderation.
- We're about to see a wave of anti-social media feeling and a call for back to basics; with comments like "Why were we all getting so carried away!?"
- Ultimately, brand/marketing strategies will be about multi-channel approaches, with social media, digital/online and offline all working in sync and being compliment ary to each other...the way it always should be.
- Social media snake oil salesmen will be exposed for what they are.
However, its real power is making sure it's in balance with the other marketing ingredients; currently it feels as if some of us may be guilty of over egging it. Let's hope in a few months time, we can allow ourselves some time to escape the laptop and mobile device; break away from the latest tweets and blog comments and spend some quality time socialising in the manner that we were designed to.