As psyched as readers of this blog may be about the benefits of integrating social media into marketing, PR and organizational communication, we’re still in the dark ages when it comes to appreciating how these channels are redefining information discovery and reputation management.
Despite the wide spread adoption of social media on a global basis, most companies remain clueless about how digital technology is changing the way people communicate and share information.
How else do explain the ineptitude that spurred articles in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal about these events:
- Burson-Marsteller’s email smear campaign against Google for Facebook. Seriously? That’s the best they could do?
- A famous British soccer player’s lawsuit against Twitter to unmask his anonymous critics. You’re kidding, right? Does he think he’s going to gag Twitter?
- Comcast’s threat to cut funding to a nonprofit that criticized its hiring of a former FCC commissioner on Twitter. And they did so via email. Did they think that was maybe a little risky? <sarcasm>
- JC Penny and Overstock.com’s decision to employ black hat SEO tactics, resulting in their websites being manually demoted in the search rankings. Guess that’s what happens when senior management is clueless about organic search.
The cold, hard truth is that these lapses in judgment are so sophomoric, all you can do is chalk it up to digital illiteracy. And by the way, if the errors they made aren’t clear to you, you’re digitally illiterate too. But don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. And chances are, it’s even not your fault.
You’ve probably been to a few social media conferences where you learned just enough to be dangerous. Speakers took the stage and told you how well they did with social media to promote themselves and generate new business. They avoided the gory details. No one’s ever actually sat you down and explained how these channels really work, or how to master them. Why would they? They want you to hire them.
The fight against digital illiteracy will not be won through keynotes or panel sessions. What’s required is practical, applied knowledge. You need to know how to:
- Build a social media monitoring dashboard to find, listen and engage with your existing online community. You may not know it, but you’ve an online community already.
- Use white hat search engine optimization tactics to make it easier for your customers to find you via search. Coming up forst for the name of your company doesn’t count. Google gives you that one for free. It’s about coming up for early-stage, buyer-oriented keywords. Has anyone ever actually showed you how to find them? It’s not that tough.
- Or how to optimize a website or blog for social sharing. Can you install Facebook “Like” button, “Tweet” button and Linkedin “Share” button on your corporate website? And can you optimize your Facebook status updates from maximum engagement so you rank high in the social newsfeed?
Over the next few days I’ll be running a series of posts to help you stamp out digital illiteracy in the workplace. I’ll lay out specifically what you and your colleagues need to know, and how to teach it to those with only minimal exposure to social channels. And if you want to take a short cut, join me for my Social Media Marketing Workshop in Los Angeles June 30 – July 1, 2011.
Or just stay tuned to my blog. I’m going to share my recipe for bringing digital immigrants up to speed and for winning resources and buy-in from disengaged managers and clients.
If you’re a past attendee of one of my trainings, what did you learn? Was it valuable? And how, if at all, has what you learned helped you avoid a major mistep?