Avoiding the Internet detritus of failed social media campaigns

Everyone – everyone – wants to get in on Facebook and Twitter, and get a blog. Those three seem to be the holy trifecta of social media participation online. Are you a corner store or a local Italian restaurant or a large multinational corporation or a heating and cooling company? Better get a Facebook page and a Twitter account and a blog!

So, they create a Facebook page for their business and upload a bunch of photos and exhort all of their friends to “like” it. They choose a Twitter nickname and download TweetDeck and get all of their friends to follow it. They sign up with WordPress or something similar, choose a theme and set a pretty header. They link up all of these accounts, sending Twitter to Facebook and vice versa, figuring out widgets for their blogs. They jubilantly make a first post.

And a second.

And a third.

And then… silence.

Things get busy in the store or restaurant or office. Someone goes on vacation. Nobody thinks to update anything. Eventually, the Facebook page sits there with 12 likes, the Twitter account has a “last tweet” date a month and a half ago, and the blog is far out of date. They become online ghost towns, empty and hollow, with no visitors but a few lonely bot-spiders picking through the bones. This happens all the time. The two related morals of the story are these:

1. It is not enough to have a social media presence; you need to use it. Social media is not like a website. It is not static. It isn’t a brochure or a business card. Granted, good websites shouldn’t be static either, but websites are generally a mix of static and dynamic content. Social media is entirely dynamic. It exists to be updated frequently, and if it’s not, then it’s pointless.

2. Stale social media is worse than no social media. A business that doesn’t yet have a Facebook page is a social-media blank slate. A business with a silent Twitter account or a blog that hasn’t been updated since last year, on the other hand, is actively harming its own web presence. It suggests that the business either doesn’t know how, or doesn’t care enough, to manage its public presence effectively. That’s never a good thing for a business.

EDIT: Well, would you look at that. The Globe and Mail and I are thinking in tandem, it seems.