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Is social media proving a turn-off?

So we all recognise social media is massive. Simply huge. And naturally you must be a part of it - right?

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ happen to be our favourites, and there are plenty more platforms out there, all jostling for supremacy as trends ebb in fashion and functionality.

However, it can be pretty exhausting keeping everything up-to-date online, and then there’s the question of knowing what to say, what not to say, how to build engagement and measure effectiveness.

Cue your friendly social media expert (a growing breed) who’ll quickly present you with a wealth of advice and management systems (we like Hootsuite best for scheduling and delivering posts across a selection of social media).

It’s worth noting that many of these are free and it’s worth signing up and experimenting to see which might best suit your needs.

However, one issue that’s rarely addressed is what social media doesn’t do for your brand presence, and how - if not carefully practised - it can prove a huge distraction, or even significantly damage your organisation’s prospects.

If you feel like you’re barely surviving social media, rather than benefiting from it, we recommend a deep breath and careful consideration of the following:

Why bother?

User friendly, low cost, minimal effort and access to a worldwide audience are just a few of the reasons that almost every business turns to Twitter and Facebook for mass marketing and promotion of their services and products.

But, before taking the leap, consider which platforms your clients are actually using and why?

What do they want or need from your content? If your goals are to connect with consumers on a conversational basis Facebook may be best. If your goods are highly visual, try Instagram or Pinterest.

Despite being social, it’s rarely personal

Meeting face-to-face, or even talking on the telephone, can’t be replaced by a Tweet. True, most social media feature direct messaging capabilities, but these are often limited by word count and should be reserved for people you really know.

Remember to mix and match your communication channels to stakeholders’ need and try to avoid falling into habits that replace direct contact. The latter may prove timely but tone, body language and recall all suffer at the hands of a purely online approach.

Avoiding disaster

A lapse in judgement can be costly and prove difficult to dig your way out of as well as being almost impossible to retract. Here’s one of many customer service brand disaster examples courtesy of METRO.

Be careful choosing who acts as your spokesperson. They should be calm, measured, an excellent communicator, and understand your organisation and clients from top to bottom. This is not a junior, learn-on-the-job position by any means.

A limited defence

Twitter is, by its very nature, short, sharp and to the point. When it comes to customer questions or complaints, your brand can quickly find itself drawn into a series of rapid-fire conversations going in multiple directions which can be hard to satisfactorily resolve.

This doesn’t mean don’t communicate, but think about the consequences of your comments and consider how and when to gracefully exit from a rabid debate.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t use social media. It’s too good an opportunity not to get involved with a wide range of increasingly popular and wide reaching platforms. Just imagine what you’d say if the person you’re trying to reach was standing right in front of you as an effective reality check.

Your call

Remember phone calls or going out for coffee? Both are user-friendly, relatively effortless and add value by being so much more personal than a text, email or ‘Like.’

Make an effort to plan out your week to allow at least two such encounters and enjoy being able to look someone in the eye, share a joke, stretch your legs, collaborate - it’s good for you too!#

Although Google Glass is thankfully on the back burner, with smart watches coming into vogue and mobiles never going away, our future is driving us towards 24/7 connectivity. It’s fine to be part of the crowd, just try not to isolate yourself in the process.

Use Twitter (if you feel like it) to follow Mark Ferguson - @MoreFirePR and Dominic Preece - @Dom_Preece