We've all seen the headlines for news articles and blog posts. "The social media revolution is here!" "Who is managing your online community?" Or the more generic, but for social media newbies in corporate leadership a possibly more frightening "Are you failing at social media? No one likes the word 'failing'.
The result sometimes turns out to be companies that rush to get engaged, but who do not want to take the time and/or cost to properly research, recruit, and hire staff who are truly knowledgeable at handling social media and community management. And that can lead to consequences almost worse than if they'd stayed out of the arena altogether.
In a recent WebProNews article (Know The Rules of the Communities When Marketing in Social Media), Chris Crum talk about companies that engage in a number of really bad, and sometimes illegal practices to try and 'engage' via social media. I'm not an expert, but it seems more than obvious that having employees pose as customers online is a bad idea at the very least. Ditto spamming message boards and forums. Is that really engagement? Does anyone really think so? Really?
So if you give corporate America enough credit to say that they're not that dumb, then what drives companies to do things like that? If I had to guess, I'd say that it's usually a combination of fear and ignorance. Fear that they're being left behind the social media revolution and that their business will suffer for it. And ignorance about how to go about bringing the right people on board, or finding them within the fold already. I'm one of those people who's more than a bit skeptical of many so-called social media experts, but with a little research you can find people who are social media savvy and who can properly, ethically and effectively manage your brand and engage with your constituents online.