7 Reasons Why Executives Love Social Media

Last Updated Apr 2, 2009 7:17 AM EDT

It seems executives fall into one of 2 categories: those who love social media (née Web 2.0) and those who hate it. To many corporates, social media is fascinating, but to others it's a no go area for serious brands. This first of two articles is dedicated to the devotees of social media.
  1. Social Media holds the promise of exponential growth. Just think of the success stories like Facebook or, more recently, twitter. It is hard not to be tempted by such a promise. Social Media may seem easy -- you just have to create a Facebook account and hey presto! You're rich and famous. Unfortunately, not anyone is granted that sense of cool which is going to make you immensely popular. And it requires hard work.
  2. For brands, it is a new way of reaching a greater number of more appropriate people in a less intrusive fashion. Social media provide a valid response to the increasing difficulties faced by many in trying to reach target audiences because of traditional media fragmentation. But that's not all. Internet users are even more exacting about your brand. So, play by the rules and be humble.
  3. It is more fashionable than your dusty website. Just because Steven Fry is a heavy user of Twitter, it doesn't mean that your business can benefit in the same way. Fry didn't need twitter to become popular. Social media should be chosen not because it's cool, but because it enables brands to initiate and engage in passionate discussions with clients and brand fanatics, or become opinion leaders or evangelists.
  4. The internet in general is more measurable. Visits can be traced, people recruited individually and newsletters built from nothing. Opportunities abound: Facebook offers targeted banner ads. Netvibes makes it possible for brands to create their own universe, or personalised widgets with guaranteed numbers of downloads. YouTube also allows brands to personalise their YouTube channels.
  5. Social media is cheap. This is true to a large extent, as long as you have hired the right kind of professionals. As with number 4 in this list, it's about highlighting the new ways chosen by social media platforms to make money with targeted advertising. Cisco and Orange are just to examples of companies who have created points of presence which cost nothing to set up and are bringing tangible results.
  6. There are opportunities to infiltrate social networks. Whether or not this is true, it is highly dangerous and unethical. It's a wrong assumption that no one can guess your true intent on the internet. Any attempt at deception could be outed by a blogger with a grudge and the resulting negative PR could be very damaging.
  7. Social media appeals to many professional marketers because markets are conversations. Not all products, brands and markets can stir passion. Don't believe for instance that setting up a community website is all that is required to kick start online discussions. Contrary to what most people think, web 2.0 is not about technology, it's about people.
Social media is a tremendous opportunity for Marketing managers wanting to add zest to their strategies and campaigns as long as they can see behind the myths about it. Avoid the common traps, learn the language and hire the right kind of seasoned professionals to handle such initiatives properly.
  • Yann Gourvennec

    Yann Gourvennec is head of internet and digital media at Orange Business Services. He is in charge of the international operator's websites and blogs. and has been in marketing and innovation for over 20 years.