SOCIAL media is something that is touching all our lives and is being used more and more often to change attitudes; to the way in which we think and act. According to a recent report from Elsevier “… brand communities established on social media have positive effects on community markers (i.e. shared consciousness, shared rituals and traditions, and obligations to society), which have positive effects on value creation practices (i.e. social networking, community engagement, impressions management, and brand use)”.

Where ‘word of mouth’ used to be the most effective form of promotion, social media seems to have taken over.

Like many businesspeople, I have a LinkedIn account and belong to a number of LinkedIn communities but I am gradually divesting myself of them. Frankly, I resent people using their membership of such groups to sell me products or services; this is not the reason I joined them.
But what has been more obvious lately is the number of incentive (and meetings) industry wannabes who apparently have no idea how to deal with the needs of their clients and are hoping that someone else out there in ‘cloud land’ will tell them what they should know as a result of their training.

Social media is not a substitute for experience or the knowledge gained by working in the incentive industry and learning from a professional practitioner.

In Melbourne, incentive industry professionals have always shared or exchanged information when to do so will solve a problem with a client or supplier…or even an element of a program. But these are professionals and not individuals hoping to start in the industry by gleaning information and passing it off as original thought to their clients.

Many of us have known each other for years and have shared experiences which emphasise our desire to help and there is no risk of losing a client. Even those new to the industry are soon absorbed into this group because they started their careers working for one or other of us. We didn’t need social media.

This is entirely different from a total stranger, who may even be on the other side of the world, asking how to do the sort of things I, as a professional, learned from experience.

Social media used as a quick fix is a recipe for disaster.