Social Media & Blogging – The Big Company Gamble?

I was having quite a long chat with a prospoective client last week about how their website wasn’t performing and how using blogging and other social media ideas would work well for them. The company spends a lot of time with their clients, they’re a motorsport company, but they’re in the ‘people’ business and they’re good at what they do. The owners and main staff are all professional and really nice people. So why did they talk to me about this social media thing?

Because their existing site just doesn’t say any of those things. And even if it did, would you believe it or just think it’s marketing spin?

We talked about the concepts of social media and as we talked I realised that they were genuinely scared of the prospect of blogging and other ideas, despite the fact that there were so many good things they could be saying.

I realised then that the concepts I’ve become so familiar with and that have worked so well for me over the last 12 months are still very new, complex and just plain scary to others.

Their website was a straight forward, ‘traditional’ one. By that I mean a home page, a header graphic, an enquiry form and some pages about who they are what they do etc, etc. Most of it ,of course, was straight out of the company brochure. So basically what they had was an online version of a printed A4 brochure. Which was OK, I guess, but meant that the website wasn’t ever going to work on several levels:

    1. The kind of copy that reads well in a brochure doesn’t help the search engines. People won’t type in the same words. They’ll type not whole sentences or irrelevant headlines that work in print, but two or three keywords. That means we needed to rethink the text.

    2. Google and other big search engines love fresh content. This site was unchanged since launch. In an age when information is flowing at us all day long, your website needs to try far harder than just having a load of generic text and pictures. The ability to QUICKLY and EASILY add brief notes, thoughts and topical information just wasn’t there. If you’re not a techie geek, why should you need to know so much just to write something on your website? And why should you have to wait several days for your website guys to add it? By then, you’ve missed your moment.
    3. The whole raft of exciting new techologies just hadn’t been implemented. Video, great photographs and the ability to interact with your audience just weren’t possible.

So did they hire me? Not yet. And sadly for us both, there’s a good chance they won’t. Why? Because for some people, it’s just too big a leap, too far outside of the comfort zone. Visions of Gerald Ratner style gaffes and other bloopers right up there with photocopies of your backside from the Christmas party were going through their minds, I could tell. They were terrified of destroying their brand.

But it need not be like that. Social media is actually just plain, simple common sense. You don’t need to be anyone you’re not. You don’t need to be an artificial, high-five, group-hug kind of person, just be yourself. It’s what your existing clients liked about you, remember? Don’t try and be all things to all people, because that’s where it goes wrong. Write about the things you think your audience would like to read. Comment on things you care about in ways that you know will be understood, but without being openly outspoken or controversial. Unless or course your ambition is to be a Simon Cowell.

I’ve been working with several other companies, mainly involved in motoring and motorsport, to help them establish their social media presence,
so if you think I can help, drop me a line via email using the contact form, or pick up the old fashioned telephone and call me for a chat on +44 (0)7812 766760.

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