Let me state it right at the beginning, I am a big fan of social media. Let me also say that for it to be truly powerful, it needs to be implemented as part of all company activities and integrated into the company’s culture.
Two items keep popping up – community building and hiring of social media specialists/community managers – that I completely disagree with and that will hinder the harnessing of the social web’s true potential.
Community building happens naturally
At the Social Recruiting Conference in San Francisco Joshua Kahn said: “You can’t build a community; you can only find a community.” These are wise words. If community building would be just putting a Linkedin group up and sending tweets, don’t you think that the UN and nation builders all over the world would use it? We can only enable communities by giving infrastructure, platforms, frameworks, connections but never make the mistake that you own a community or can just fabricate one.
Hiring of social media specialists/community managers
Public relations is about engaging with the public, social media is about engaging with the public. Customer care is about engaging with customers, social media is about engaging with customers….
Social media needs to be implemented in the relevant functions and not build as another separate entity. If it is a separate entity it will fail and will only always remain as another communication channel. Social media has to become part of the DNA, not another add on. Which leads me to one additional point: Any communication agency with a separate social media arm misses the point completely and waves a big sign that reads: “We jumped on the band wagon, but we don’t get it!”