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Reading over at WinExtra, a post which quotes from Chris Brogan's blog:
"At this point in the gestation of social media we are still being led to believe that bigger is the way to go. We are being told that we should be joining not only the biggest and hottest of the services but also the newest. We need to make the services the drawing card for businesses and the conversations are secondary. It is like social media is WalMart and the services are just the different departments in the store that we shuttle between."
If this is indeed what you have been hearing-- fire your agency (or Web strategist or so-called Social Media consultant/guru).
No "social media", just Web. Just conversation. Web strategy begins with listening, understanding your networks, and planning how to be useful to them. Conversation first, research first--Technologies come at the end of this process, not the beginning. You don't decide to set up shop in Facebook without first understanding WHY (and when I hear this request to do so, my first reaction is to always pull the reigns waaaaaay back, and usually nix it all together).
At iCrossing we have created a robust process for mining and understanding Conversations, understanding those networks and planning how to be useful to them. "Social media" is not a silo, its swallowed up in overall strategy and therefore is intrinsic to service lines across the board-- conversations become the center point of marketing, with strategy and engagement falling out of this point of view.
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