examining social media beyond the hype

At Silicon Valley IABC, we had a great presentation today from two social media experts who shared insights into real world, practical uses for social media in companies’ externally-focused communication initiatives. I thought I’d share the highlights here.  These guys were top notch and had some great perspectives.

Chris Boudreaux of Accenture [and the founder of www.socialmediagovernance.com] discussed the newness of social media tools to marketers, who are valiantly seeking their footing with this innovative media that already reaches far and is growing fast and unpredictably. Likening the delight of bringing social media tools into the marketing toolkit to getting a new puppy [it’s so great and wonderful until your shoes get chewed and the rug gets soiled] Chris provided a framework for responsibly applying these tools in the corporate setting using ’empowerment with accountability.’   Companies should not over-control or strictly impose old rules that stifle the inherently creative and human characteristic of social media.  Governance policies need to go beyond reactive, risk containment issues like ethics and conduct to proactive uses that drive upside and strengthen a company’s brand while still ensuring consistency among all who speak to the outside world through these tools.

Krim then took up the brand issue, pointing out how yesterday’s branding practices no longer apply in today’s social media world. Whereas most large companies [and even some smaller ones] lean far toward the control side of branding policies, these have traditionally tended to let nothing ‘human’ in.  Yet brand truly consists of attributes far beyond brand elements (logo, look and feel) to very human experiences – culture, ideas, innovations, motivations, services, etc.  To make a brand strong in the social media environment, companies must get in the conversation in the first place, show some personality and humanity, and build trust through genuine interaction.

Clearly social media as a marketing tool is in its infancy. We really appreciate the insights from these two leading edge practitioners who are on the front lines of this new paradigm.

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