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Is there a shelf life of a social media post?


The Olympics. We have all talked about it, moaned about its implications to our working lives leading up to it, yet celebrated every night during it. It was hailed by all as the People’s Olympics with news and technology correspondents voting it as the Social Media Olympics. I agree. I lost count at the number of communications I found myself not only writing online, but also engaging with others as the epic scenes took place live.

The social webosphere kick-started the very moment Tim Berners-Lee announced “This is for everyone” during the opening ceremony. As it happened, I was in Istanbul for some of the Olympics but I was keeping a keen eye on the television. Obviously they had Turkish commentary, which made for a difficult spectator sport. Thankfully the cool bar I was in – drinking my cold Efes beer – had free Wi-Fi so I was able to find explanations of what was unfolding on the big screen. This was a great example of social media and its power of connectivity in real-time. But my initial question asks; “Is there a shelf life of a social media post“?

We are very much in a new era where social media is prevalent everywhere, embedded into all elements of our society. Business even sees its value now in reaching out to current and new customers. We do it at Ricoh. I’m doing it right now and expecting people like you to read this post, hoping you think about its meaning and ultimately share it with your personal network of friends, connections and associates who might also find it interesting.

If you missed a huge social engagement event online which was spoken about by your peers’ days later, would you really go out of your way to find the conversation; is it even that achievable? Will this post hold any meaning this time next year? I’d very much doubt you would be able to find it. But what about in six months, six weeks or even six days’ time? All the time and effort that businesses put in to engaging online these days, what is the actual shelf life and is the ROI proposed by top media gurus fully accurate?

Take Facebook’s floatation a couple of months ago. It has seen its share price fall by 40% in a matter of weeks. The gurus on the other side of the fence are already beginning to chant just a little bit louder. Social Media won’t just die off tomorrow, it can’t. It’s the people’s forum and they won’t let it fall down to its knees just yet. The worry is that businesses bidding up their share price too quickly and making it unstable just might. Social media is a powerful medium. It enables us to engage with our customers, friends and family bringing us closer together.

The art of conversation
From a business perspective, it isn’t just about starting a conversation; sitting back and watching a debate unfold. It can appear to happen that way, but the hidden heroes are the ones who engage. Social media’s immediacy is its greatest strength and biggest weakness in terms of longevity. Those businesses who see it as a one-way, easy route to mass communication are missing the point to social. Just like a face to face conversation, there’s a time to speak and a time to listen. And, as any comic will tell you, timing is crucial – sometimes you may have missed the opportunity to contribute all together.


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