Network Natives: “If you don’t play nicely, we will ignore you.”

It seems a number of companies think that the fact that they’ve landed on Planet Social Media automatically entitles them to broadcast messages to the current inhabitants. And as a result, they’ve been surprised by the simple lack of business which seems to be coming their way. And why’s that? Because network natives in social media environments do not appreciate being broadcast to. And it all points the way to the fact that many (if not most) organisations still do not get social media.

The key is that organisations believe it is “another channel to market,” however it’s not. Social media environments are places where people communicate with each other in an online environment. Social media environments are places which we can regard as channels to each other. A bit like the pub, coffee shop, canteen and so on. The only people who have any entitlement to engage with us are those we care to sit with. Like any social situation, if someone starts to dominate a social space, you’ll find that people will respond in an appropriate fashion: either by moving away themselves or by censuring that person.

Some organisations seem to have forgotten this in their gold-rush behaviour toward social media environments. CTR on things like Facebook is alleged to be as low as on any other regular web site (and then we’re not even thinking about conversion to sales). Some of this can be attributed to poor targeting software associated with the environments, but also because it’s still a broadcast method.

Having got engaged recently (and changed my status on Facebook to reflect this), I have been swamped by wedding related advertising (having previously swamped with ads for the black dating network). Little attention is paid as to whether I want these services. The ads are relentless. And it turns me off the firms involved. Yet – I know I may want these services, but the imperative needs to be mine. Digital has always been about power in the hands of customers. Firms that forget this, do so at their peril.

The perfect firm is the one that recognises the importance of the conversation. It’s possible to communicate directly with me, to see if I want to have a dialogue, to assess my desires (not work out my needs). And one of those desires is: do I want you to communicate with me? Do I want to converse?

My membership of groups and Fan pages should be a much better indication of this. Think it through.

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