If you've just been to a marketing conference, chances are you sat through at least a couple of presentations on social media. You may have been dazzled by claims of thousands or millions of fans gained as a result of marketing activity or you may have been sceptical. So much is claimed for social media but all too often the detail remains behind closed doors. And so much of what is claimed doesn't seem to have any relation to an accurate measure of improved performance for the business. The first part of the problem in any discussion of social media is that it's not always clear what people mean by social media. It's certainly more than Facebook - in many markets Facebook is not the leading social platform.
It also includes Twitter, YouTube, a host of blogs and forums and any other digital or mobile location where consumers can connect and converse. Critically, social media does not just mean the environments that are owned and controlled by a company but also the conversation that happens outside them, at review sites for example. The second part of the problem is that social media can deliver many different things; it can be a customer service tool, a communication vehicle and a knowledge sharing platform to name just three ways that companies have successfully utilised it.
Finally, many marketers are wary about stories of social media attacks on brands that come underfire by activists and campaigners. The perception remains that being active in social media opens brands up to potential attack.
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