There is a quaint notion surrounding social media that ‘everyone is special and every voice matters’. This viewpoint is a powerful one: that every voice has an equal footing and every one deserves an equal audience. Every blog post, every tweet, every Scribd and Digg and Delicious item on the net needs a watch. Needs to be thought over. Responded to. Engaged with.
“Whether you have a million readers or just a dozen,” goes the refrain, “your voice is just as important.”
That’s a very nice, warm and comfortable notion.
But it’s wrong.
The plain truth of it all when it comes to social media for your organization; some people matter, some people don’t.
Okay. Now that we’ve broken the taboo and put that out there, let me see if I can speak over the din and wailing and gnashing of teeth in order to clarify.
Communications and Marketing do not have unlimited funds and one-on-one relationships can scale only so far. You want to leverage the network of the people you build relationships with to act as an amplifier for your message and to serve as a qualified filter for information flowing back into the organization.
Don’t get me wrong, if there is a real problem being discussed online, then it doesn’t matter who points it out, you need to act as soon as you can to fix it. But as anyone in customer relations can tell you, there are legitimate complaints and then there’s whinging, whining and just plain old trolling. With limited time, money and staff you want to be sure that you don’t get sucked into arguing with every person on the Internet with an opinion and a blog.
Consider: Is the complaint arising from a customer? Do they speak directly to your customers? Is there any chance on this great, green earth that they or their audience could EVER be your customer? No? Well then shuffle them to the bottom of the queue. It’s okay. Really.
When you have a message to communicate, you are looking to get that message as far and wide as you can. Who do you want delivering that message: a blogger with one hundred readers or a blogger with a hundred-thousand readers? Or better still, a blogger whose audience consists of several bloggers with a hundred-thousand readers.
You want your message to be in context and to come from someone with credibility on that subject. Now a blogger like CC Chapman, Chris Brogan or Mitch Joel could blog at length about the benefits of using some brand of organic yarn in knitted goods and a sizable audience would see that message. But I question how many of their readers would actually be interested in, let alone accept their opinion on the matter. Were I counseling a manufacturer of yarn on social media, I would suggest that a post from Amy at Indigirl holds much more weight than a post from CC, Chris or Mitch.
Talking in the abstract, it’s easy to toss around platitudes about connecting with everyone. But for anyone with a budget to manage, prioritizing who you connect with is key.