Marketers Beware - Don't Hijack Nascent Social Networks

Traditional businesses were slow on the uptake when it came to leveraging Twitter and Facebook. The primary reason being that the resources simply hadn't been allocated to invest in social media. Today, however, that obviously isn't an option. A lot of businesses of varying sizes have dedicated community managers with a budget and a whole lot of time to take advantage of social interactions on the web.

This has resulted in an interesting trend - firms are not waiting for social networks to become popular; they're not going to take any chances when it comes to potentially missing the boat.

The problem with, however, is that what allowed Twitter and Facebook to become so popular is that they were so focused on relationships and connecting people - not maximising brand awareness!

Case and point - Jelly. A new question-answer based social network founded by Biz Stone (formally of Twitter).

It took only a few days before big brands such as GE, Ben & Jerry's, CNBC and others started asking questions. Don't get me wrong, they're the sort of questions - 'engaging', 'community-building', 'dialogue, not monologue' - that my lecturers at University impress on me as being vital.

But this lacks context, because if the ratio of brand related questions outweighs the genuine community then it's not going to take too long before any type of consumer - let alone the early adopter, geek, realises that they're just adding to a firm's brand metrics. This may have occurred with Jelly

Companies need to understand where they sit in the social media landscape and not jump onboard every opportunity that pops up or risk hurting the growth that they themselves are trying to capitalise on.