More Companies Are Embracing Social Media …With a Little bit of Caution!

Aug 18
2010
Listen to social

More companies are Listening well before they speak

Companies now see that they have to go where the people are, but in this media, you have to be aware of what you are saying, I suggest you Listen for several months before you even say hello. Eric Frazier from the Charlotte Observer

As social networks like Facebook and Twitter keep broadening their reach and influence, they’re taking socially savvy entrepreneurs and companies along for the ride.

Few examples have been as conspicuous in Charlotte as social media consultant Jason Keath and Social Fresh, the social networking conference he first put on in Charlotte a year ago. The one-day event, geared toward teaching corporate marketers how to navigate social networks, has proven so popular that it’s expanded to Tampa, Nashville, St. Louis and other cities.

It returned to Charlotte for its second year on Monday, with a daylong series of panel discussions and speakers at the University Hilton. Keath said it attracted 305 attendees – the most ever for the conference. “Charlotte is our home market,” he explained. “It’s our first repeat city, and so we’ve got a built-in audience.”

He structured this year’s conference to be less of a Social Media 101-type gathering and more of an opportunity for corporate social media types to learn how to push into more complex social media strategies and campaigns.

“We really want to improve the social media community,” he said during his opening remarks. “I want companies to take more chances… and to take more chances you really have to have confidence in what you’re doing.”

But, as fretful corporate executives everywhere realize, one rash Twitter or Facebook post can provoke the kind of backlash that takes weeks, months or even years to beat back. More and more companies are jumping onto social media “because that’s where all the people are,” but then they find themselves dealing with problems when the natives don’t always react in the ways companies hope or expect them to.

Bert Dumars of Newell Rubbermaid, the household products manufacturer, used Einstein Bros. bagels as an example. He said, in a presentation, that Einstein brought in 300,000 new Facebook fans in one week with a free bagel giveaway. But now, he said, many of the messages on the company’s Facebook page come from spammers, or from people who are simply asking for more coupons for free bagels.

“My biggest (piece of) advice when you’re starting out is don’t go too fast,” he said. “Growing fast does not equal growing well.”

Amber Naslund of the social media monitoring firm Radian 6 gave a keynote address in which she said the social web has revolutionized the way companies do business. Customers routinely shoot messages to companies via Facebook or Twitter, and increasingly, they expect immediate response. She called listening to those networks “answering the new telephone” that customers prefer using.

“While it is a challenge, there’s unprecedented opportunity,” she said. “And while it might sound a little dramatic, you’re witnessing history – business history.”

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