Social media integration - the definition of integration in the social media paradigm by Prashant Pinge
Posted on 27th May 2011

The golden age of social media has dawned. There is no knowing how long it will last. But businesses are scrambling to make their presence felt on this magical landscape that promises untold glory. Everyone knows about Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and a host of other social media sites that have suddenly provided a viral platform to do wonderful things. And as the mob psychology kicks in, everyone's making a beeline to create profiles.

But let's take a look at one of the big buzzwords that's going around now: social media integration. It sounds cool and very cutting edge. Social media is in. Throw integration into the mix and it sounds awesome. Now integration as a word simply means bringing together. So social media integration would then mean bringing together the different social media networks. But what does that really mean? Most businesses view it as a way to get their message out on different platforms and then wait for the miracle to kick in.

Firstly, that's not even integration. Secondly, the definition of integration in the social media paradigm needs to be expanded. It's too narrow for businesses to have any meaningful impact on their desired objectives. Although I think it would be quite fair to say that most businesses don't have any to begin with. It's just a me too game where profiles are created and then pumped with irrelevant information. So then what would constitute as true social media integration?

That a company needs to engage social media in today's business scenario is a given. But social media networks abound. Hence, a business first needs to realize that social media networks are nothing but tools. The impact they create will largely depend upon which tools are selected and how they?re used. So then, the entire process starts with strategy that is based on defined objectives. This is then followed by selection of appropriate social media to ensure maximum reach to the target audience. Strategy also involves ensuring a process for constant generation of relevant content.

Second, the social media platforms selected have to be utilized to the fullest through an internal integration. This simply means that there is seamless connectivity within the networks that allows for instant movement of content, allowing exploitation of the maximum reach possible in a more effective way. This actually has become quite easy due to numerous software and plug-ins available that move data into various platforms from a single point. Lastly, the content has to move forward. And this can happen though provision of sharing tools which allow for the information to be spread in a viral manner. These tools are also readily available.

As can be clearly seen, the second and third parts are largely technological and don't offer any sustainable competitive advantage. The tools are easily accessible and replicable. What really matters is the strategy - knowing the what and why. It is only the strategy that can ensure that the right content reaches the right people, thereby delivering on your desired outcomes. And that's precisely why integrating strategy into your social media paradigm assumes paramount importance. The tools may change, but the business fundamentals remain the same.

About the author

Prashant Pinge is a consultant at Media Panther (http://www.mediapanther.co.in/), a branding, marketing and advertising services firm in Mumbai.

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