It’s a safe assumption that the majority of articles on effectivesocial media strategies will reference things like current user demographics,the rapid growth potential of non-traditional information sources, and that –by design – these channels were created to facilitate conversations.

For many businesses, the real draw of social networking is theopportunity to have their messages reach mass audiences via the credibilitythat comes from a warm (friend-to-friend) introduction.

However, this recent blog post byPatricia McDonald of BBH Labs paints a slightly different picture of the“Social Web’s” influence today.

Citing a research study conducted by the Edelman Trust Barometer, the poststates that only 25 percent of consumers in the U.S. view friends/peers as crediblesources of information. That’s down a whopping 20 percentage points from 2008.

From the beginning, social networking was viewed as a valuableresource that could help brands reach more consumers through the inherent valueof having their stories passed-along to like-minded peers. But today, it seemsthat the credibility of those ‘peers’ is not the answer.

So how can social business strategies succeed in reaching theirtarget audiences?

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Positioning:Brands must stand for something. And whatever "IT” is must drive everymessage and consumer interaction in marketing, advertising and social mediachannels
  • Value: Asbrands become social content creators, it is important they deliver somethingof meaning to their audiences. Social strategies cannot become just anothermarketing tactic. In this world, content is definitely king
  • Adjust your expectations: In social media, size matters … but not in the way we've allthought! It’s not how many friends, fans or followers you have collected thattruly matters. Smaller, more relevant networks offer greater value andpotential for building a community of people who will actively participate withyour brand
  • Information: Whensomething truly matters to a consumer, the news media is still the most trusted(i.e., credible) content source

Research findings aside, nothing can match social networking’sopenness, inclusivity and the real potential to foster meaningful two-waydialogue with the customers who are most likely to listen.

Now it’s up to us to keep the space as “pollution-free” aspossible.

— Janet Tyler