Social media strategies: Talk, listen or … ?

I had a good conversation today with three friends who work in social media. (This was an old-fashioned conversation, sitting around a table at a coffee shop and chatting). One topic was how do companies use social media, or how should they use it?

Three strategies we’ve seen in businesses using Web 2.0:

  • Talking. Some companies are using Twitter, for example, to issue 140-character summaries of press releases or marketing pieces (with links). I heard another social media maven say recently that getting comments from other people isn’t the goal – it’s about getting your message out. He said the communications platform is what makes it “social.”
  • Listening. Other companies are listening intently to chatter in blogs and social networking sites, gleaning from these online conversations feedback about their product or service – and then fixing it. Or they’re hearing about the unmet need of consumers that could become their next big market.
  • Engaging. And then there are companies who really are creating a conversation. (“Conversation” is the social media buzzword that not all participants actually do.) These businesses are talking and listening. They may be systematically listening, which goes by the sinister-sounding verb “monitoring.” They answer questions. When they see someone complain about their company in a networking site, they reach out and offer to help. Almost like an old-fashioned conversation. 

So what’s your opinion: In the world of investor relations and corporate communication, what is the goal of blogging, Twittering and other-2.0-ing? Should a company talk, listen or engage with financial or corporate audiences online? 

And now you can engage: Click where it says “comments” at the end of this post. No name needed. And, of course, there’s no right or wrong answer – at least not in my book.

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2 Responses to “Social media strategies: Talk, listen or … ?”

  1. Tom Allinder Says:

    Dick, I really enjoyed this post. The conversational manner is great. I can give you my opinions (which I am never short of)…

    Twitter: During the first few months I used Twitter, I enjoyed it. However over the last couple of months the experience has been less and less desirable. I have seen first-hand how many companies, IR types and promotional types are out there spamming a message. It is interesting to note that few of these people ever get any responses or reply to anyone. Twitter’s best use is a conversational platform. There are more problems… the real movers and shakers of Web 2.0 (the thought and idea leaders) are leaving because Twitter is being overrun with Hollywood types, spammers and jackasses of all kinds. I still use Twitter but I filter it through Friendfeed and only subscribe to those that know what they are talking about. Bottom line with SM platforms are that they are not broadcasting platforms (my opinion, of course).

    I believe that companies SHOULD engage not only investors, but prospective customers and clients as well. It has been my experience that proper use of these platforms yield results well beyond just informing shareholders and obtaining new shareholders. So, yes, all three, talk, listen and engage.

    Great post!

  2. Dick Johnson Says:

    Tom … Thanks for your kind words. Approaching Twitter through a filter sounds like a good idea to cut through the noise – I’ll try it. Clearly, some folks do treat SM venues as broadcast platforms. IMO, other technologies handle the “news alert” need just fine, and social sites ought to engender real conversations. Philosophically, I’m with you – all three. Practically, I know some folks working one or two of the angles. If spam becomes prevalent, I’m sure it will drive people away to whatever is the next big thing. I appreciate your thoughts.

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