Elango R, Chief Human Resource Officer, MphasiS and the author of You Don’t Need a Godfather, gave an interesting definition of social media at the Nasscom India Leardership Forum 2012. “Social media is another sexy medium to reach out" he said.
Well, social media is indeed the flavor of the season. Debates and discussions are going on around why and how organizations should make use of the opportunity called ‘social media’. Opinions might differ from user to user. One has to decide how to use it to reap maximum gains out of it.
Why you use social media might be different from why someone else uses it. Every organization must have a clear objective of why it should have a social media presence. Every interaction that you do has to be in line with these objectives. Elango says, “This is the opportunity we have to use.” Simply being there and talking may not serve the purpose.
It Might Backfire
Some people call it a two-ended sword. It can actually turn out to be one if not used in the right way. Organizations that use social media for their marketing campaigns or customer service should be rather careful because things may go wrong and totally out of control. There have been such instances, like for instance what happened with Mcdonalds Twitter campaign. The reason why interactions can backfire is probably because the negativeness quotient is much more. You don’t know how people will react on social media.
What can be done in that case? Elango says, “At times it is better to take a back seat and keep listening. Things will automatically fall into place”. This can really work. Because once a negative conversation starts, trying to control can make it even worse. But that is how things work when you are on social media. It’s the choice that one has to make.
Where to Draw the Line
This is an important question that most organizations struggle with. How far should conversations be allowed to go? Are restrictions required? Drawing the line can be very important at times. Organizations using it should know why they are there. What you should talk about and what not. Personal interactions and organizational goals should be kept separate. But too much of restrictions may also defeat the whole purpose and advantage of social media. Anand Pillai, Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Learning Officer, Reliance Industries puts it this way, “If you have anything that is fool proof, only fools will use it.”
Having said all that, social media is not the ultimate tool. It has to be a part of the overall strategy and cannot be used in isolation. ‘Its just another sexy medium.’