I have had several conversations recently that made me stop at think. Actually, they also made me go back to the AHA PR office and ask what the crew thinks too.
One conversation I had was about the “depth” of commitment of social media followers. My colleague told me about a recent conference in Vancouver where Malcolm Gladwell spoke about President Obama and how he pulled strong support from social media during his election, but is currently facing challenges. (I wasn’t at this conference, so I am repeating what she explained to me.) Apparently, Gladwell was highlighting the difference in supporters. Social media easily allows people to connect with you or your brand and while that’s a good thing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be moved to action when the going gets tough. It’s something to think about.
When someone becomes a part of your social media network, how do you move that forward into an authentic relationship? Of course, it’s relevant to the specific brand and the campaign or initiative, but it’s a good question and one that might not get enough focus in planning. Social media provides a communicator with an opportunity to connect. Taking that connection and turning it into something deeper takes energy and effort.
We are often asked if social media will completely replace meetings and events in the real world, if it’s just as good to hold a webinar or live stream an announcement. Apple is a stellar example of blending social media and real world connection. When Steve Jobs announces a new product, there is a conference hall full of people who want to be in the same room with him. For those that can’t make it, there is live streaming and other ways to participate.
I think Gladwell’s message is timely. Using the challenges currently being faced by President Obama is a great example. We have said for years that social media is not the silver bullet that will fix all of our communications challenges. The fact is, creating engagement on social media – even if it is not a deep connection – isn’t as easy as building a Facebook page or jumping on Twitter. There needs to be an engagement strategy and, in order to deepen and evolve the relationships, social media should only be one component of your overall communications plan.