Clutter. We all have it, some of us more than others.
I’m not just talking about that box of DVDs or (ahem) ‘vintage’ clothes that never made it onto eBay. Some Feng Shui practitioners are now specialising in advice to help us declutter electronically; just because we can’t always see the information that’s stored on our various devices doesn’t mean it isn’t still sitting there. Unless we’re ruthless, it just accumulates. Unless we’re super-organised, we risk losing track of the important bits.
Wasn’t all this supposed to be empowering rather than energy-sapping?
Now add the rapid growth of social media into the mix. Just keeping on top of your Facebook presence, tweets (however brief and crisp), or LinkedIn profile takes a certain amount of thought, effort and discipline.
Perhaps we find comfort in the clutter. Sometimes we might find ourselves adding to it merrily and copiously, almost unconsciously. Let’s face it, to use social media concisely and purposefully while staying true to oneself is a skill many of us are still working on.
While this may be true on a personal level, according to ‘Channel Vision’, a study published by Catalogues 4 Business in March 2012, many UK companies and brand owners also have their work cut out in this department.
The research questioned 123 UK companies of varying size, from a range of sectors, about their marketing plans. It found, perhaps not surprisingly, that over 50% of them were currently using social media as a marketing tool. Of the remainder, the majority were planning to start using social media within the next 12 months.
However, what may come as a surprise is that the answers from the businesses already using social media also showed that, although they clearly recognized the importance of their own online presence, over half of them were using social media in an unfocused way, lacking any clear strategy or set of goals.
For example, many companies had gone to the trouble to set up accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other networks, but with a rather ‘scattergun’ approach. They had not put clear ideas in place as to how they would use any of these as tools to interact meaningfully with their ‘friends’ or followers, to raise awareness of their brand or demonstrate thought leadership. In turn, they were failing to use social media to direct more traffic to their websites, generate leads or improve their customer service.
Also missing was a firm sense of what would, for them, constitute successful use of social media, and how this would be measured and reported.
A missed opportunity, you might say. Worse than that, an unloved, untended online profile could become positively toxic, leaving the owner open to negative (and unanswered) comments on their page for all the world to see.
Social media clearly continues to create an enormous potential market, unhampered by physical boundaries. For businesses and brand owners to harness the power of this fully, they need a well thought-out and consistently-applied social media strategy, and a clearly defined picture of what success would look like.
Otherwise, their message may never make it through our own jungle of clutter to reach us.