Social Responsibility without Social Networks isn’t responsible

Companies and not-for-profit organizations in today’s market need to utilize social media in order to succeed with their advertising strategy. We still use the term “social media” to identify something separate from the conventional measuring stick of mainstream media. At what point will that be irrelevant?

The demise of traditional media has long been reported, but has been slow in coming. However, that time may now be arriving. Mainstream publications, right up to the venerable New York Times, are bleeding red. They have not been able to take advantage of the new environment, but are being punished for their poor judgment.

In this new context is the notion of social media, the myriad ways in which communication and collaboration are facilitated in an online environment. For all organizations, the question is then, where do these communities congregate and how to access them effectively?

Dealing with social media is different than working with traditional media. Social media is unique due to the negligible cost of entry, quick communication, and the ability to build a following through merit. Jennifer Lowther, Director of Social Media, 6S Marketing, notes that in today’s environment you need to have a “social media friendly” website in order to succeed.

How do you communicate? Social media is an ongoing conversation; traditional media is a monologue delivered to an audience. With social media, the audience is part of the conversation in the form of user generated content. There are no barriers to entry in the form of capital contribution.

The major social network is, of course, the ubiquitous Facebook , a magnet for tens of millions of users. Organizations can create pages to explain what their organization does, use various Facebook applications, publicize events and share information with friends. Social networking facilitates community-building online, active engagement by members, and so-called “stickiness” – meaning that people have a reason to keep revisiting the particular site.

But it is important to note that social networking can be purposeless, an end in and of itself. How does social networking happen? Individuals create profiles and begin to develop an identity within the site. They are then able to communicate with other users via comments, messages, or group postings. These individuals can then post their own ratings of topics (etc) on the site’s ranking system and they can contribute ideas for adoption.

Another main social network is LinkedIn, sometimes called “Facebook for grown-ups.” It allows individuals to post their profiles or resumes and then find and connect with other individuals. Sometimes viewed as a dream concept for search consultants, it nevertheless provides a great service.

An older demographic may be on LinkedIn and not on Facebook. It is growing rapidly and almost everyone in the internet world is on the system. In fact, instead of giving contact information, just tell people to find you on LinkedIn.

Any organization that wants to maximize its effectiveness needs to be tapped into social networks. They are a vital tool for communication and interaction with supporters. It is common currency that you need to go to where the people are—and they are clearly plugged into social networks. Any organization that is pursuing social responsibility wouldn’t be responsible if they didn’t effectively tap into this network.