At the corporate and institutional levels, social media are still not taken as seriously as they deserve to be. This is partly for good reason.


After all, we are talking about a media, which, for one, is relatively recent and still developing, and which secondly is social before anything else. Primarily used by individuals in and for their private life, social media can still easily be dismissed as not being worth the trouble and continuous investment for companies and institutions.


You needn’t be a novice to doubt the added value of social media to other means of communication. This for example is one way of seeing things: in exchange for multiple sources of constant distraction, compromised concentration and productivity by predominantly trivial information, you are placing more personal data than you think into the hands of a new, unprecedented and barely transparent economic power.


That’s one (grim) way of seeing things ( – leaving aside the broader debates about digital media in general, such as on the democratisation of information).


However, it is no secret the usefulness of social media to anyone – individual, company or institution – depends on a well-considered, methodological and disciplined yet sensitive and reactive use. Social media are no end in themselves, but a means to an end.


A means to an end


If seen as merely an additional marketing outlet, you’ll risk going in circles, to repeat yourself and others’ so-called messages in advertising, and to eventually annoy rather than interest. Anyhow, marketing is not part of the purpose of social media, and as such might be regarded as an intrusive and alienating practice.


From a corporate point of view, others might still object to providing information nobody asks to know and to answer questions nobody has asked. Well, do not wait until someone asks the question and in the same breath gives an own answer, which you’re not prepared to respond to.


Now, the key to a purposeful social media presence and engagement is to occupy a certain market share of the communication in your sector or field of activity. Instead of selling your product – a wide-spread practice that all but pollutes social media – seek to redefine your public relations by:


  • speaking to your stakeholders rather than to random potential customers,
  • showing consideration for their interests, concerns and dreams,
  • proving your own interest and expertise within your field of activity and beyond the remit of your business,
  • relating this engagement to a set of values that define your corporate culture and communication,
  • produce calibrated and target content that illustrates your expertise and interest for current developments
  • promoting the human face of your business by involving your staff,
  • showing leadership, internally and externally, and thereby
  • building trust.


Building your reputation by communicating about your activities and responsibility


A communicating with B by conveying some message only A deems important is a practice of the past. Find value in communicating about your responsibility and business values, your local engagement and commitments. Enable a two-way conversation for positive change and exchange of ideas. Comprehend the digital media as a unique chance for your business to be seen as a genuinely integral and responsible part of society, and for a potentially limitless reach. As we are not deluded utopians either, we need to emphasize that the underlying idea will is to actively build and work on your reputation, which ultimately is supposed to also affect your sales figures. Only the intent must not only be one of marketing…


In order to do so, you’ll need to be visible on the net, coherent in your communication, transparent in your business practices and authentic as a team of individual members, leaders and values.


Then let the message be forwarded, online just like offline.


Philippe Beck





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