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Shock switch for Smoking Gun MD Rick Guttridge: ‘Social media is a waste of time’

I appreciate half of Britain is on Facebook, and networking is our favourite online activity. But some would achieve more without status updates and fickle trends.
Keeping up with technology is all well and good, but I often see a relentless hunger to compete with the Joneses when it’s not appropriate. Research is vital before launching into social media for business, and for more reasons that just ensuring the target market even uses Twitter. It’s essential to understand what can and can’t be done too, as ignoring the fine details could prove costly.
First up think transparency, unlike Honda when Facebook users responded negatively after photos of a new model were posted. The Product Manager anonymously defended the designs, contravening what I’d call the moral fair usage policy, and felt the resulting furore. Then there was the Belkin representative who tried using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk system to pay people for writing false product reviews. Instead he received a public roasting from The Daily Background.
Then understand the rules. Habitat didn’t when it famously fell foul of Twitter for tagging offers with keywords linked to unconnected trending topics. An online #Iran-gate followed, and a formal apology. Finally, and this is most important, make sure you’re not setting yourself up for ridicule. If there’s one thing I find myself repeating it’s that a campaign is in the hands of some very unforgiving consumers, not whatever company paid for it.
When a business is embroiled in an online campaign gone awry it’s immensely damaging to its reputation, and usually takes even more manpower to get the fire under control. Similarly, haphazardly investing effort in social media and web marketing, with little to no training, only leads to more expensive dead ends.
In 2011 digital and traditional media strategies cannot be autonomous, and should be seen as equally important. Of course I don’t really believe social networking is a waste of time, unless the user doesn’t ‘get it’. We prove how it works for our clients every day, but conversation is key to improvement. So, whether you want to say hello or try and prove Twitter is a fad, let me know your thoughts on the matter and let’s see if we can’t agree.

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