Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Power of Social Media… Myth?

Is the power of social media overrated? I keep hearing mainstream media talking about "the power of social media". It is my contention that social media has no power in itself, it just facilitates the power of ideas… good or bad, at a much faster rate than in the past. Social media has no power itself. The "Arab Spring" (as an example), was a powerful idea, not a powerful social media event.

When desperate senior executives of confused corporations hear about this social media power I am sure in many cases they race out of their offices and demand an instant social media policy, or better still the instant hiring of a social media 'guru'.  The thinking of course must be… 'we need professional and effective access to this fundamental new source of power'.

Sure social media is a great communication channel, or perhaps more correctly a series of communication channels however the power comes from the power of their brand or the message their brand delivers when it is well matched to their ability to communicate… not as many seem to think… the channel access itself.

In two instances recently organisations have discussed with me the need to set up or get involved with social media. "We need 'to improve the market penetration" and 'customer touch points' is the common catch cry. 

The problem both these organisations have is I suspect similar to that of many others … they don't know what to set up let alone how to operate what they set up. The social media power problem is two fold. The second problem is most don't understand that the power comes from the passion created by their fundamental message rather than the level of activity undertaken on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or any other social media platform. 

The first issue in many cases is badly handled as the need to carry on a sensible conversation on an organisation's social media channels seems difficult, if not impossible for many. Social media operations are time consuming, expensive, labour intensive and potentially dangerous. The second problem is if you have a boring product or a boring message social media will not help you, in fact it may just make the world more aware of how boring your organisation and its product's or services really are.

So remember if you are wanting 'the power' get your message right as well as how it is delivered and be prepared for a long ongoing conversation with your customers. It's all about form and substance and you need to handle both extremely well to be successful in the social media world.


  1. This post contains a simple but extreme important message about what is really important for an entrepreneur. Highly recommended post

  2. Very well put, Richard. It's just another medium. The message is what's important. Still, you could strike down an awe-inspiring phrase like "the pen is mightier than the sword" by the same logic. I guess that while message and meaning is what's crucially important, every important advance in ease of communications - from papyrus through the printing press to the electronic media of today - has brought important social advances, at least in an overall way if not always in individual examples.

  3. Good article, and I agree with you. Only if the service or product you want to sell is attractive to the customer, social media can give ti a boost.

  4. Interesting point of view. However the reality no form of marketing what ever it is will change something that is fundamentally flawed.Product , Brand or otherwise

  5. I completely agree Ric. Extremely well said. The other issue that I see is organizations who are unwilling/unable to have an open conversation.

    They say stuff like:
    I want to do a SM campaign. This is what I want it to say. These are the results that I want/expect. Can you do it?

    Eventually some silly SM guru will say yes, and another SM failure is born.