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Friday, 5 February 2010

Friday Guest Blog: Are blogs the beating heart of a social media strategy?


Friday Guest Blog: Are blogs the beating heart of a social media strategy?

Paul Fabretti is Director and Co-Founder of Manchester's first dedicated social media agency Gabba which is also part of leading PR Agency Smith & Smith PR. He has been involved in social media for over 5 years working with some of the region's and country's biggest brands.


With brands scrambling to get themselves a presence on social networks everywhere, a pattern is forming. Those that commit time, resources and imagination to communicating on these channels are doing very well indeed. Those that don't, fail miserably.

Those that succeed realise that they need to offer something different to the audiences on these channels. Those that fail, simply have presences without purpose - branded outposts with little or no relevant content or contain regurgitated press releases or "viral videos" which are nothing more than cheap tv ads stuck into a social network.

But to criticise companies for not being able to commit the appropriate time and resource to making these channels is somewhat unfair. It's not for everyone. The best social media strategies use the right content containing the right messages, delivered at the right time, to the right people on the right channels. But not everybody is capable of understanding how this can be done or geared to delivering it.

So what else is there? Blogs.

Debbie Weil (if you dont know who she is, go here and here to find out more!) recently posted the following question which really resonated with me:

Is Corporate Blogging the Hub of Social Media Marketing?

Debbies question is a really pertinent one as we see more and more casual, almost meaningless social gestures creeping into our online world. Friending, poking, liking, rating, status updates and even Twitter with its 140 characters are all quick and simple ways for us to communicate but do any of them add any real value to interactions with customers?

Whilst many firms set out with the very best of intentions of engaging customers with their social media strategy, where is the real meat in the conversation.

As I often do, ask yourself, how would you interact with someone if they only spoke in 140 characters or sentences with limited meaning, or who simply gave you a thumbs up or down in response to a question you may ask?

Out of principle, we in the profession are obliged (and 99% of the time are correct) to say that no social media strategy should proceed without beforehand, monitoring the landscape. That seems to be the proper and sometimes obvious way to get things moving. We then move to discuss the idea that no channel has the right to be used without evidence that there is a need for the brand to communicate in that way to customers.

The reality is though (and this is through a lot of experience!) that at the heart of any good social media strategy DOES lie a blog - whether with a corporate hat on or a marketing-led branding/engagement one.

The blog, for me, is the way to get to the heart of what social media is all about - people. It is the only way of giving the brand a voice, a means to communicate in a way that the stuffy website or social channels will not let them and a way to to show consumers that the brand really does care.

Many have postulated that blogging is dead with the growth of the status update and twitter, but Im utterly unconvinced.

What are your thoughts? Can you think of other ways that brands can engage in meaningful conversations with customers yet still make it a quick and easy thing to do?

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