Getting Past The Social Media Hype

March 3, 2008 Social Influence 8 comments

This article first appeared in Marketing magazine in February 2008. I thought it would be useful to share it with you here.

And yes, I am back to blogging again after a super long hiatus!

By now, every publicist worth his or her salt would have heard of the wonders of new media. Anything imbued with the word 2.0, social media, conversational marketing, blogosphere or peer-to-peer is laden with the Midas touch.
Want to access the 80 million blogs around the world?

Just put up something within the next two hours on Blogger, WordPress or Movable Type. Presto! Your blog ranking will hit Technorati’s top 100, and a gazillion citizen journalists will hungrily chew over every sacred word issued from your online altar, propelling you to instant worldwide fame.

Yeah right. If only it is this easy.

After dabbling in various social media platforms for close to three years, I learnt certain principles needed to thrive (or at least survive) in this space.

First, grow your grassroot groups by adopting a bottoms-up approach. A-list bloggers and blogeratis (blog celebrities) have huge readerships. However, are they the right target audiences for your corporate messages? It may be more prudent to cultivate your own niche community of raving fans who are users that endorse your products and services.

Second, do not fire your PR folks. While social media is largely dependent on the efforts of individuals in cultivating bloggers, there is still a huge role for mainstream media. Newspapers, TV, radio and magazines still capture a vast amount of eyeballs and audiences.

Third, be religiously regular in posting content but don’t kill yourself. The online race is a marathon – not a 100 metre sprint! If you are starting a blog, publish posts on a regular basis which your readers are comfortable with. If you are putting up podcasts, ensure that you are able to pipe in compelling content that listeners can appreciate and enjoy. Silence isn’t golden in cyberspace.

Fourth, establish yourself and your company as a thought leader. Blogging, podcasting or videocasting gives one an incredible opportunity to showcase intellectual prowess in the subject matter while gaining fans. Credibility is important so show your stripes in social media spaces.

Fifth, complement your online marcom strategies with offline ones. I am a firm believer that branding and integrated marketing communications should apply in the social media universe. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you have to slap your logo everywhere or embrace the same colour scheme throughout. What it does mean though is that your approach to engaging bloggers should be consistent with your brand values.

Sixth, get your hands dirty, roll up your sleeves, engage in online conversations and blog away. The best way to understand the new digital domain is to become one of them. Mingle freely way before delivering your first “key message”. It is back to Relationships 101 all over again.

Finally, be realistic about what you can or cannot achieve in the new media arena. There are certain topics and subjects that just won’t cut it online, regardless of the amount of cultivation/friendship/bribery that you have done. Be happy with little successes in the initial stages and build on to bigger and better things in time to come.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. Nice to have you back.

    Whatever you want to do to connect with your audience in the online or offline world, you must have the heart to do it. Your audience will call your bluff if you are not real. Yes, they are that sharp and perceptive. This is why advertisers who promote with fluffy words and empty promises will close their business eventually. Bloggers who blog simply for money will lose momentum when they found the underlying hard work that’s demanded in blogospere.

  2. Brudder Walter, welcome back man…we know you have been busy..keke.

    I guess using new media is another form of medium and you are right that mainstream media still plays a big role. Think new media serves as a compliment and not the only medium to reach out to our public audience eh? 😉

  3. Welcome home Walter!

    Surprise to find no photos of your last trip. I always enjoy a second-hand trip with the photos ha..

    Anyway, thanks for this great post after a long break. Very down-to-earth advise.

  4. Welcome Home!

    oh my goon-ness, what is 2.0 when i’m trying to find my way back to beta! 😀

    good post! and i agree finding the right audiences is difficult. social media now are basically mashed up with reciprocating linking & comments going thru & fro

  5. guess you beat me to it! I was trying to start blogging again but i hardly even have time to sleep nowadays. Sleeping on the plane is a hobby now. Welcome bk!

    I have so many thoughts about communications/ PR, new media etc the last few months …the new job opens up alot of new perspectives.

    Your very first point is very valid. Marketers and comms folks should and must always get that point clear. Just because a blogger has got more readership does not mean you should target him/ her for your news about a business partnership announcement that (1) that blogger wont understand (2) his/ her readers won’t care about.

    My boss always say, “it’s the message pull-through that matters, not a whole chunk of clippings”

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