In the final days before we launched VirtualStudio.TV I took it upon myself to be in charge of our social media strategy. At that time this “strategy” was referred to as “the twitter and blogging stuff” and felt more like a box that had to be ticked rather than something that had any significant long term benefit to our new business. 

I realised after typing into Google “how to master social media” that there are no golden rules to success. Most people seem to appreciate that social media can offer big benefits to organisations. Due to its dynamic and fast changing nature there appear to be no established principles yet and I don’t think there ever will be. I think that is one of the things I like the most about it.

The lack of rules and structures has given companies the flexibility to be more creative and to push the boundaries. This has led to some amazing viral campaigns that have made worldwide stars of Russian Mearcats and drum playing Gorillas. Unlike in the past where marketing plans may last for a year or so, social media allows you to react almost instantly to market conditions and this is forcing marketers and communicators to be more innovative in their approach. 

It is only since I started interacting with the different social media every day that I really started to appreciate its potential value. Twitter for example is much more than just an hourly update of Paris Hilton’s movements and has provided amazing insights into our key areas online video and corporate communications. LinkedIn has enabled us to connect with people we’ve not seen or heard from in over 25 years and our Facebook fan page has led to three firm enquiries for work.

For VirtualStudio.TV social media has provided our potential customers with a way of giving us feedback on our new service. This has led us to making improvements to our product offering and website as a result. The fact that this great feedback has all been free has also been very convenient!

From my limited experience the single biggest issue for a small business trying to leverage the power of social media is time. To be successful I believe that regular posts and blogs need to be written, daily updates to social networking sites have to be made and new additions to the online video channel need to be shot and uploaded.

For us the challenge will be to maintain our initial momentum as the level of work inevitably rises. I have read that many companies begin a blog page in a flurry of activity that dwindles over months before ultimately dying. If this turns out to be my first and last blog post then I am guilty as charged but I certainly hope it’s not the case!

In four weeks I have gone from social media sceptic to someone eager to learn more and I’m convinced that it can help us expand and improve our business. VirtualStudio.TV has by no means unlocked the door to social media success, far from it, but like millions of other organisations across the world we’ve dived in – whether we sink or swim, only time will tell!

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Simon Malone