Social media relations in Russia

Everything associated with innovations and having a "new" prefix becomes popular and fashionable in the PR and marketing domain at ones, but seems to stop selling well same fast. Perhaps it can be explained by the fact that decision-makers still keep on driving in the streets and watching television. It is easier to explain them what their money was spent for when they see colorful billboards on the sides of roads or TV ads in prime-time. It is also truth for communications in the new media, but not the whole truth. The affection for blogging and social networking keeps growing rapidly, but has transformed into a new quality.

Who controls new media? The sad experience of intracorporate clashes showed that marketing and PR department do not always reach agreement on who is responsible for dealing with new media. The matter is that nothing is simple in this segment. Social media relations in Russia target end users, which is the domain of marketologists, rather than PR specialists. However, it is the PR department that is normally authorized to work in the segment, which results in the conflict of interests.

Indeed, working with bloggers does not differ much from working with journalists. The main difference is that journalists write articles for money, and bloggers for fun. A professional blogger, in my opinion, sounds not far worse than a junior journalist. Where is the way out? Which is better?

The solution is simple and evident. A separate department should be set up, where the interests of marketing and PR intersect. The number of companies having such specialized departments is insignificantly low now. However, from my perspective, it will be one of the trends in 2010-2012 to establish dedicated new media departments.

What will these units do except for convincing their bosses, who no nothing about computers, that their work is vital for the business? Well, there is a lot of work in store:

  • Blog and social network monitoring;
  • Contacts with authoritative bloggers;
  • Contacts with ordinary users;
  • Quality management;
  • Hosting virtual focus groups;
  • Corporate blogging;
  • Sales in social networks;
  • Launching loyalty programs in social networks;
  • Raising corporate social responsibility.

Now that two years have passed, when only the idle did not go into social networks and blogs, it becomes evident that a considerable, if not overwhelming number of cases, involving the use of new media, are explained by the fact that it was fashionable. This was not done because it was effective, but just because everybody was doing so. I don't mean that all of the cases were stupid junk. I'll just try to describe how the decisions on launching such projects were taken: Is it fashionable? Oh, yes, indeed! Let's go for it then!

A prominent case is the Dewarist project in LiveJournal. It is essentially a blog, contributed by prominent Internet figures such as Anton Nosik, Artemiy Lebedev, Nikolai Uskov, Gosha Kutsenko — All of them famous and popular. The project is really attractive, expensive and full of pathos. But the result is poor: only 12,561 readers, which is very well for the LifeJournal. But nobody tries to assess how much the contact with one reader costs in this case? Isn't there anything cheaper?

Yet another "story of a failure" is the groups in the social network Odnoklassniki. I often compare these blogs with the world in the era of Ptolemy: you can see and grasp only as far as you can reach, that is the pages of your friends. There is no search service and you know nothing about who does what and what groups of interest there are. In summary, if you have an account in this social network, it does not mean that you should necessarily work with it.

There are lots of illustrative examples of how popular brands were entering social media, not knowing that they will leave them soonest. Raiffeisenbank is one in the row of sad stories: it decided that the blogs are not what it wants, because the contractor spoke some Marsian language to its clients for almost a year. Instead of explaining how people can get a credit card, the contractor posted something associated with "derivatives" and "hedging." We all remember a large consumer electronics producer that also decided that VKontakte social network is a bad promotion tool, because its internet department could not ensure good contact with clients. There are lots of such examples of disappointment that make one feel pathetic.