For almost two years I have been championing the use of social media and have tried to encourage organisations to use it and make the most of the opportunities it brings. My support for it hasn’t changed and I continue to talk about the real examples of how it has improved my work and my personal life. However, it is clear to me, and has been for some time, that it isn’t the only game in town. There is much more that needs to be considered to make sure communication is effective.
On a few recent occasions I have had to remind keen colleagues that just using social media is not going to bring the benefits that they are looking for. They have seen the revolution taking place around them and they want to get involved and make it work for them whatever their communication issue. I applaud that positive approach to social media but it is just one part of the jigsaw that makes up effective communication.
A hugely important element of communication that cannot be ignored is making the most of face-to-face engagement and conversations. That has to be at the heart of any communication strategy. Whether it is internal communication or connecting with customers, doing it face-to-face always has to be the ideal situation. Clearly, with limited resources this isn’t always possible so that is when using social media and its communities or working with the local media can bring benefits.
Social media is important and has brought some huge benefits to organisations and individuals. It has a place in how we all look at communicating with friends, colleagues or businesses. But there has to be more to communication, and the real benefits from social networks come when they are integrated into communication plans and strategies. They don’t stand alone, they have to be working alongside other more traditional forms of communication.
So it is time for everyone to remember what stands behind social media – know why you are doing it, know what you want to achieve, integrate it with other communication and identify and mitigate the risks. If we do this then social media will become part of the answer but not on its own.