Social Media Webcasting And Corporate Social Media ... Oxymorons?

The business of webcasting has succeeded and survived for the last decade because it's not social, it's serious. Significant enterprises are leveraging and paying for technology to deliver a message. A range of business sectors, including internal corporate communications, investor relations and sales communications, is willing to invest in the distribution of actionable, high-value content to their constituencies.

It's important to these businesses to develop and communicate a singular message to shareholders, employees, customers or partners, so considerable time and capital are devoted to branding, positioning, packaging and value proposition. The message is the DNA of these enterprises. After investing resources into developing the corporate "DNA," why would a serious business entity create an environment that could potentially pollute the gene pool?

When Social Media Doesn't Work
As executives scramble to create a social media footprint, they strive to integrate a variety of applications into their business strategy. Social media webcasting, which incorporates social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and other group chat functionalities into a live webcast, is one of the latest trends. However, it's simply that. It's a novelty advocated by digital agencies as an attempt to position companies on the cutting edge of technology.

Social media webcasts distract attendees from the key messaging of a presentation because these points are overwritten by a Twitter feed or Facebook posting. Disgruntled employees, competitors and unhappy shareholders all have the ability to use a live social media webcast as a platform to complain. Is it worth jeopardizing your carefully crafted messaging?

Additionally, social media widgets can be shifted on the webcasting screen so users may cover up, move or minimize company logos during a webcast. This, in turn, diminishes the corporate message and displeases marketing executives and sponsors. Although social media applications are useful to build relationships, engage and recognize clients, gather feedback and gain valuable insight, these devices should be utilized following a live webcast, not during. The disadvantages of social media webcasting outweigh any possible benefits.

Taking the Social Out of Social Media
Agencies often discuss and debate social media trends, nuances and positioning, yet they never clearly articulate the definition of success. Enterprises are directed by their agencies to recruit individuals with strong social media backgrounds in hopes of advancing the overall social media agenda. However, more often than not, new hires are also immediately introduced to the company's "Corporate Social Media Policy" and the dos and don'ts of what to say, when to say it and how to say it.

There is a fine line regarding social media and corporate messaging. Businesses want to, and should, engage their clients in conversations where they feel comfortable to share their opinions and communicate openly, but on the other hand, companies are also trying to simultaneously leverage social media to manage brand perceptions.

Once you create "policy and guidelines," you have removed the "social" from social media. It's difficult enough for companies to craft these social media rules; it's even more difficult to apply the policies. How do you police messaging for employees who blog, tweet and post on Facebook? More importantly, how do you enforce these guidelines? If an employee develops a following on Twitter and then leaves the company, does he/she take the following with them? What if they go to a competitor?

Agencies are having a bonanza consulting large enterprises on the uses of social media. But this honeymoon might soon be over as more and more companies realize that they are creating an inerasable digital footprint. Agencies might be making money now, but soon will it be the lawyers?

1 comment about "Social Media Webcasting And Corporate Social Media ... Oxymorons? ".
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  1. Bruce May from Bizperity, March 30, 2011 at 10:58 a.m.

    Nick, the cat is already out of the bag. Your brand lives in social media. You can't lock the company doors and refuse to deal with it. It's not something that you can control like corporate communications. You can only influence it. You do that in the first case by delivering great products; in the second case by delivering great customer service; in the third case by treating your employees like human beings and not indentured servants. They have real lives. You don't own them 24/7. They will interact in the real world and while you can have a well defined corporate policy about what they say about the company, the best and most effective policy is to have a mature organization with happy and productive workers. Then you can focus on corporate and marketing communications. Take a look at Dell's to see how a company can proactively embrace social media.

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