It's not enough to just be working with Social Media for most brands, they're also looking to build community... but then what?
It's a fair question. The net result for many of the bigger brands is a thought that somehow links a vibrant community to loyalty and spending (hopefully beyond reason). If that is, indeed, the reason that many brands are interested in Social Media Marketing and in building an online community, then what happens after all of this works out? What if you have as many people as possible either following you on Twitter or friending you on Facebook?
What happens next?
For many, the fear is that they will cannibalize the relationship by eventually giving in to their past addictions as they begin spamming the network with promotional offers, discounts and other very traditional mass media marketing tactics. They just wont be able to help themselves. The keepers of the community and the conversation (be it the Marketing, Communications, Public Relations or Business Development departments) need to have some kind of serious game plan. They have to be thinking not only about how they're going to find their next followers and engaged community members, but the direction and conversation that is evolving and how it might, ultimately, end.
All good things must come to an end.
Something else will come along. The tools, channels and platforms will both evolve and dissolve. Nobody likes to talk about it (and it might sound a little sombre and sobering), but it's true. There will come a point where everyone (companies, brands, individuals) is publishing content, rating content, and pushing information out there in text, images, audio and video to the point that it won't be noise, but rather something much busier and messier than noise. Even the best of the aggregators and editors (both humans and technology-powered options) won't help. At the best filtered moment in time, it will still be like trying to drink from a fire hose.
It's not that big of a deal.
Human beings are amazingly resilient and adaptable. As hard as change is, we manage to grapple through it, innovate and deliver some pretty spectacular things. So now, the time has come to start thinking about innovation in Social Media, to start thinking about what happens after we build a loyal (and valuable) community. What does it look like? What's the point of it? How does it meet our business objectives? And - more importantly - how do we keep this community engaged, enthused and excited about being a community?
Sorry, no answers.
This concept is still fresh. It's something we should all grapple with (I am). If we don't start asking these questions, experimenting with the platforms and channels and pushing out our thoughts about where this is all going, then all we'll ever do is rest on our laurels.
Where is all of this going? What do you think?