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  • February 2008
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Social Media is NOT a Free for All

For too long I feel we’ve had folks on both sides of the issue of social media. One side blindly pushing for the adoption of new media tools as tactics and even as the new order. On the other side – and it’s interesting since we don’t see them much out here – are those who flat our refuse to accept that social media and all it apparently represents has no business in, well, business.

I am oversimplifying the issue quite a bit, but you can draw a line in the sand and form sides around much of the blogosphere and certainly around business lunches, professional groups and in the C-Suites. The divide gets worse when you move geographically around our country and into certain industries.

The truth is, social media is not a free for all. Business is business. And you can’t join the two all willy nilly. So it’s nice when you see a strong advocate of social media who puts on his business hat and reframes the picture for you.

Shel Holtz wrote a strong post called Business adoption of social media: It’s not about employee rights that I will share with any communicator who will listen, social media fan or not. Business is not a democracy and organizational leaders do what is best for the company. As communicators, our jobs are to provide counsel that allows them to do that. Sometimes that advice employs tactics like social media, sometimes it doesn’t. One thing I have learned about Public Relations is that there are more publics out there than most people realize – and you have to relate to them all. What are you saying to all of your publics? Even if it’s nothing?

Shel writes:

My position on employee engagement in social media is based on my belief that doing so will produce far greater benefit—in the form of enhanced constituent relations—than risk, particularly when it is managed strategically. There are many dimensions to these benefits, some of the most important of which include the following:

  • Recruiting and retention
    • Employee engagement
    • Increased customer satisfaction
    • Improved brand experiences

      And he goes into great detail. Shel also writes “There’s probably a whole book in this topic…” and he’s right. And I hope he writes it, cause I’ll buy it. I come from the academic side of Public Relations and this is not the first time Shel has echoed my thoughts and put them into words in a way that I wish I could. But I can’t, or at least didn’t, so read the post.

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      3 Responses

      1. I don’t disagree at all with your post and Shel’s observations but you might like this link to David Weinberger’s mini-essay: Why the Web is Different. In it David argues why we optimists, pessimists and realists all have an important part to play, only the optimists are always right 😉 http://www.hyperorg.com/backissues/joho-feb04-08.html#different

      2. […] Armour states that social media is NOT a free for all, and references Shel Holtz’s recent post to that effect. In the end, it’s all about the […]

      3. […] 30.  Social media is not a free for all, thanks Luke Armour […]

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