Social Media is annoying, so let’s ignore it

cave_smallA friend of mine just started a new job, and me being me, I advised him to ask about their social media policies. In this day and age, we can assume there is bound to be one and it’s important not to make any mistakes with that.

The reaction was a bit unexpected and a little bit worrisome.

Everything is blocked on your desktop, you can use your cellphone for social.

The person asked seemed annoyed by the question, he might be asked about social often, but the company has nothing in place regarding social.., nothing.

  • No policy
  • No directive
  • No listening
  • No engagement
  • No presence

As you can imagine, I was stunned. Agreed, it might be a bit naive of me to think that most companies are doing something by now, but doing nothing at all…

Living in a Cave

I’m going to make another assumption. I assume most people do not live in caves any more, there might be one or two, but in Western Europe, that is highly unlikely. We can stretch this assumption all the way to Social Media.

You probably have a home, a telephone, an Internet connection and, statistically, you probably have a Facebook account too. Within any company in Western Europe there are, at least, some managers whom are active on Social Media. At the very least, some employees are.

And judging from main stream media and even the reported news.., you just have to be aware of this phenomenon called Social Media.

I believe this is a fair assumption.

Any Company

It is my believe, and with me almost every professional who has anything to do with social, that the use of social can benefit any and all companies.

Highly customised in some cases, well controlled or monitored in others, but a solution, or beneficial addition can always be found and made.

Just, No

Now we have established that most people in most companies are aware of The Social Evolution, you would assume they’d do something with it, or about it. Well, you’d be wrong. I was wrong.

That is one assumption you definitely can’t make. In fact, it’s save to assume that a lot of companies do not even entertain the thought of doing anything with social.

This company my friend works for as but one policy: No. Just.., no…

Every social site is blocked on the desktop, there is no training, no policy, no awareness, no risk management. I’m sure they have some PR worst-case-scenerios, but I’m also sure this does not involve social. Maybe it gets mentioned somewhere, but without a proper presence and proper training, there is no way you can predict or handle any problems or fall-out, should it occur.

However, you are allowed to use social through your own device (not sure if they have Wi-Fi, but you can bet they don’t).

No Stopping It

There is no way a company can forbid the use of social media. Especially in your own time.
They also cannot stop you from expressing your opinion about anything on any platform, they can only react.

And, they also cannot stop people outside the company, like customers, express their opinion.

Not For All

Now, it must be said, this company is an life-insurance company. Having a solid Social Media presence is difficult in this line of business. It’s not the most dynamic subject, and it’s hard to translate it into anything visual (but it can be done).

Also, one of their prime concerns is customer privacy.

They fear that with the use of social (on a desktop), sensitive information can easily be shared (or leaked). Also, because it is, in part, a financial institution it has to adhere to many rules.
Because of these two factors, its reputation is its most valuable asset. And yes, you can lose that in an instant via social.

However, this may happen regardless of whether or not you have an active Social Media Policy.

And therein lies the dilemma.

Risk Management

I’m not saying they should have a Twitter account and a Facebook Page.
I’m not saying they have to open up all channels on the desktops.

What I’m saying is; At the very least, they have to have a solid policy on the use of Social. Not as a restrictive measurement, but as a clear guide.
Informing your employees on the pitfalls of social, and having a document to fall back on, is not just smart, it’s mandatory. Through this policy you can not only protect the company from harm, but also the individual.

Closing everything of, and saying ‘No’, is not a solid strategy. It doesn’t protect you, it doesn’t educate. It only moves the problem somewhere else, maybe even increasing the risk.

Companies have a responsibility towards their employees, much like parents towards their children.

Social Business

And then there’s that. If we (companies) do not encourage the save and proper use of social by our employees, the gap to a Social Business becomes even greater.
Shunning social completely only prolongs the digital stone age a company is in.

When the time comes to move up, and this time will come, the challenge to change will be enormous.

Any and all companies (and individuals) have to move with the changes. If you do not, you run the risk of becoming obsolete.

Interim Social Media Consulting, Something to Think About

I was reading a post by Mike McGrail (of Velocity Digital) titled “Social Media – Stop Thinking Tech & Start Thinking Why!

It struck me that after all this time a professional like Mike still sees the need to write a post like that.

The Interim Social Media ConsultantApparently we still stumble headlong into social media without thinking and planning.
Like Mike says, at least social is on the agenda, but at what cost.

Point of the matter is that by now we know better. We know that without proper goals one is just poring time and money down the drain.
Not to mention the frustrations that go along with an inevitable failure.

At some point some manager will want to know if the whole endeavour is worth it, if there is a ROI. And the person in charge might only be able to show a graph of the number of Likes the Facebook page has, or how many Retweets (if any).

And if that same manager has been reading up on social media he or she will know, by now,  that these are not key performance indicators.

Then, like with any other failed process there comes a time to clean up.

This is where the Interim Social Media Consultant comes in (I just made that up, but it sounds good and really plausible).

“So what does a ISMC do?”, I hear you ask.
“Good question”, I say.

There is a difference between a ‘normal’ consultant and an ISMC.
Because, with any luck, a normal consultant starts out with a clean slate. A pristine environment where an enlightened manager gives you free reign on how to set-up their SoMe.

I know, this never happens, we do not live in an Utopia. Although, if you ever encountered a situation like that, tell us about it in the comments, please?

A Mess

Anyway, the difference between a situation where a client is enthusiastically looking for something new and a client that is looking for someone to clean up the mess can be quite striking.

And it will take a different, more ad-hoc approach to get things done.

The Manager

For instance, the manager hiring you is quite likely frustrated through the lack of (real) results from his team. She also, probably, has to answer to somebody higher up. Making results an urgent matter.

And we know that results take time. Building significant relationships take time.

The Appointed Social Media Person

In many cases somebody is made to volunteer for ‘doing’ SoMe. Preferably somebody young, because they understand all this modern stuff. Or an intern, the cheapest we can find.
Or, if we’re lucky, somebody who is really trying, reasonable dedicated, but no expert.

In any case, here too you might find a lot of frustration. The ISMC will be in a position where they need to explain what went wrong and bring this person (or multiple persons, depending on the size) really fast up to speed.

No, multi-week training schedule here.


120518- Chicanes!When stepping into a new job/assignment/project you always have to be aware of the internal politics.

With social business, and a more open and respectful structure, we hope to limit the amount of politics, but until then it is something you have to be very sensitive about.

In a situation where things have gone wrong even more so.

Neutrality is very important, but you also have to make a stand. There is a right way of doing things and the ISMC has to find the balance between all involved to get things done.

The bigger the company, the bigger the investment done, the more politics are involved.

And somebody might be looking for a scapegoat.

A New Breed

In many different disciplines the Interim Manager is a common appearance. For the financials, the human resources, the IT processes, the customer care. All have their experts in cleaning up.

This is because most departments, where things can get messy, have been around for quite some time.
People have come up and grown out of these departments, and now they use their expertise to troubleshoot and get things back on track.

The discipline of Social Media has not been around long enough for people to already have grown out of it. Many are still learning, and with the current rate of change, we probably always will be learning.

So, it’s the “before” experience that counts, the seniority if you will. Combining years of working in different environments with the (relatively) fresh SoMe learnings.

Has any of you ever been put in a mess to clean up? I would love to hear about you experiences as an Interim Social Media Consultant.

How To Find The Right Social Media Platform For Your Niche

How To Find The Right Social Media Platform For Your NicheFinding the right social media platform for your niche is not as straight forward as you might think.

Is there a specific one to start with?
Should you be on all?

We can dismiss the idea you have to be on all social platforms. It’s just not achievable, by anybody.
And I’m not going to tell you which platform you should use.., that will be up to you.

What I will do is try and give you a guide to make the best choice possible.


First of all, you need to experiment. It might not always be a 100% clear which platform suits your needs best. Therefor experimenting is almost necessary.

Don’t stick around waisting time and money when it seems your efforts do not bear any fruit. Although, keep in mind that it will take time and effort (and some money) to get things going.

The Rabbit Hole

A word of warning then.

Once you start down the social engament rabbit hole, and you do have success, you can’t get out.
You can grow and you can shrink, it will drive you mad and there is never enough time.., but you cannot stop.

Listen First

A good way to start is by listening to the social buzz. If you represent a company, look for the company name. Where are people discussing, praising or complaining about you, if at all.

By listening you might eliminate profiling a demographic all together. You simply go where your name is.
If, for example, Twitter is being used to put your company under a microscope.., then that’s where you will engage with your clientele.

If you start from scratch (with a blog or a company), find keywords that reflect your niche best. The more specific you get with keywords, the more you narrow down the target.

You can use Addict-o-Matic or Social Mention to get you started.

Profiling Your Niche

Then, if listening doesn’t give you enough results the next question to ask is, what is your target demographic?
(It doesn’t hurt to do this anyway.)

You need to figure out, almost exactly, who you want to reach.

  • What age group
  • What sex
  • Level of education
  • What industry (your niche)
  • What country

There might be more questions that need answering, you have to filter it down.

To help you get going I will give you the one question you do not need to answer, what planet?

Gardening Blog

Just an example to show you how complex finding your demographic can be.

Who would be your demographic when writing a gardening blog?

As always, it depends.., what exactly do you do in your garden? Do you have an ornamental garden or do you grow your own food? Do you use permaculture and/or organic? Or do you create the perfect lawn and write only about that.

You can see that the kind of people you want to reach might vary as much as the subject of your writing. And consequently, the platforms on which they are active might vary just as much.

Pro, Tech, Kids, Games, etc.

And then the hole gets much deeper.

Finding out who you want to reach is one thing, where do you reach them is a bit tougher.

I won’t list all platforms here, the list is just too long and it would take me ages to describe them all and give you a breakdown of what they can do. But I’ll take a look at the biggest and hottest ones to give you an idea on the variety.

Let’s get cracking and let’s start with the most obvious and ubiquitous (I love that word).


1 billion registered users. According to there are, at the moment of writing, 7.136.849.436 people on this planet and 1/7 of those have, apparently, a Facebook account.
To put that in perspective, if Facebook would be a country, it would be the third largest country in the world, right after India, with China leading.
So.., unless your niche is in a country where they banned Facebook.., you could say this one is a must.

Then again, it could very well be that your target audience is nowhere to be found on Facebook.


The Professionals reside here. Nowadays a company needs a presence on LinkedIn in order to stay current. It helps with exposure and recruiting. In Belgium it’s the fastest growing social platform.

Then again, if your focus lies in Germany, Austria or Switzerland, your time might be better spend on XING – Das professionelle Netzwerk, verstehst du?


We all Tweet away like there is no tomorrow. I’ve already Tweeted 4570 times. And for the love of anything, I can’t recall what it was all about.
Twitter invented microblogging, and is by know one of the largest social platforms. It’s difficult to ignore.

Then again, it could be your audience is young and is very active on Tumblr.


YouTube is the second largest search engine on the Web, right after Google. it makes sense that any video made is posted here. With the right keywords chances are you  get plenty of hits.

Then again, if your audience French Dailymotion is a safer bet.


Pinterest is booming, it’s working nicely, growing fast and some people are spending way to much time on it. But it does have a fleeting feeling to it, like Twitter.

Then again, for professional photographers Flickr is (much) more respectful to copyright.

More Choices

There are more places where people hang out. Forums are still very active and much used. As a Subject Matter Expert you might benefit a lot by being active on certain forums.

Also, dedicated community websites for Doctors or Musicians might be interesting. These websites might not even use a social platform to connect, maybe only to get some news out into the world, but most communication will happen within the community on the website.

It Goes to Show

Finding the right platform is a matter of research.

I only named a few (did not mention Google+, Reddit, Github, Vimeo, Ning, Orkut, Stumbleupon,Deviantart or Instagram), however, there is a niche for every conceivable past time and for every conceivable profession.

All you need to do is find out where they hang out.

Do you have any suggestions to add on finding the right social platform for your niche?