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Relational Challenges: GM's Social Media Bumps
By: Doug Bedell
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We've been saying that social media needs to be included in corporate public relations plans these days, if at all possible. What does that look like when it's done well? General Motors has been having difficulty with the concept, so much so that it's pulled its advertising ($10 million worth) from Facebook. B.L. Ochman thinks GM "doesn't get" social media, that it "wants to broadcast instead of listen." She provides 11 "boring" examples of the problem.

Referencing The Wall Street Journal, B.L. notes that "GM is spending $30 million maintaining its Facebook presence, but from a look at the place, they're not doing much with it."

"We're excited to announce the return of a V-8 powered, rear-wheel-drive performance sedan to our robust U.S. lineup, the Chevrolet SS!" is one such post. "(Well, of course you are," B.L. rejoins, "Maybe you should ask us if we're excited.") Some of her other examples are even worse. This is all pretty ham-handed of GM, but it shows the challenge of relating well in social media. You've got to drop your pretensions there and just  be conversing well. And that can be a challenge for corporate biggies, or any of us, for that matter. 

Ford, on the other hand, is increasing its Facebook advertising, but with a social media spin. "You won't make the right choices if you view Facebook as an advertising network," says Matt VanDyke, Ford's director of marketing communications. "You can't just pick up advertising that would run somewhere else and put it on Facebook as an ad banner." Yes, says another Ford marketeer, Facebook takes some learning. What new relational technology doesn't?

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About the Author
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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