Half-hearted social media – more harm than good?

Can making a half-hearted effort at social media do more harm than good? An example where a blanket spam approach hasn’t worked.

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If you have spoken to us over the years, you will have (hopefully) got the message that we are very excited by the potential that social media offers, but that we feel that a lot of organisations underestimate the commitment / resource that is required to make it a success.

Too many businesses dip their toe in the social media waters and then run away claiming that it is hopeless, without really giving it time and dedication to reap the rewards. It takes time and you cannot be lazy – if you start any form of dialogue / engagement, you must follow it through.

Without wishing to cause offence and point fingers, we have witnessed what can only be described as a half-hearted attempt at social media that we think serves as a good example of a missed opportunity.

Last week, we pubished an article about the Google Panda update hitting the UK – it ranked well for Google Panda related phrases and had a reasonable amount of interest.

One such visitor was Doug Scott from DiscountVouchers, who left a comment that you can see at the bottom of the post. We welcome comments and our initial reaction was good – it was evident that DiscountVouchers had a point to prove and were using social media to communicate their message (if you accept that blog interaction is a form of social media, we are not just talking about Twitter and Facebook…).

It was a little odd that the comment was left on our blog as we did not make any reference to DiscountVouchers, so the (slightly aggressive) ‘check your facts guys’ comment surprised us.

Further investigation revealed that we were not alone in receiving such a comment – it was left on a number of blogs and forums as you can see here. It is absolutely fair that Doug Scott wished to defend his corner and somebody obviously spent a fair amount of time identifying discussions about the Panda update, but the blanket approach failed in our case for two key reasons:

1) Acknowledging what our article actually said

Had DiscountVouchers actually read the article, they would have seen that they were not mentioned.

Just because the article was ranking well for Goole Panda related phrases does not mean that, by default, we must have mentioned them. It wasn’t a long article, so it wouldn’t have taken very long to realise that it wasn’t actually a relevant comment to make.

2) Failure to follow up their engagement

Whilst the relevance of the comment is questionable, we are very charitable people and thanked Doug for his comments and stated that we welcomed evidence to support his claim and that we would be happy to share it with our readers.

What happens next? Radio silence. Nothing. Nada.

Far be it for us to assume that our humble blog is high on their list of priorities, but it isn’t hard to subscribe to comments and, once you have started a discussion, you really should follow it through and respond to any ongoing comments / dialogue. Yes, we could chase Doug to ask for the analytics reports but feel that it is up to him to follow up on his intitial comment.

The net result is that the initial comment starts to appear like comment spam – a blanket approach to filling up as many blogs / forums with an identical response and then no effort to follow up those blogs that engage.

Very much a half-hearted attempt and, in this case, you could easily argue that it has done more harm than good (interesting comment from Robin Moore about getting out of bed on the wrong side…).

Lesson learnt? Don’t dip your toe in the social media waters. Dive in properly, invest the time and resources that it will demand and, most importantly, follow through any dialogue that you start.





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