Social Media Scene: why is the UK so far behind?

As a blogger or blog reader, everyone here is involved in social media. If you check out my Google Profile you’ll see an almost full list of the social media sites I’m (semi-)active in – Twitter, Dyalogues, LinkedIn, GoodReads, IFB, Blippr… though I do keep some (my Facebook and my no-longer-active MySpace account) private (not to mention the many forgotten!). I have posted at length about the joys of twitter and online personal branding – I believe in social media as a force for information management and knowledge sharing.

If you’re in a position to share knowledge and information with the wider world it seems logical to do so. If your company needs to increase awareness of its place and role in the market, social media provides an excellent platform on which to build. So why are so many companies in the UK proving so slow to make their presence known? Why are we Brits so very far behind the webiverse?

Once you begin to get interested in social media progression you start to realise just how quickly it moves. Sites like Mashable and Tech Crunch are churning out piles of content every day – because there’s a call for it – people want and need to stay ahead of the curve.

Practically none of these social media stories come from the UK. When the Travelling Geeks (funnily enough from San Francisco) came over this month they apparently had a brilliant time, but nothing our cutting edge technology companies unveiled to them could be deemed groundbreaking. We’re simply not particularly advanced in the web science world.

There have been two, completely different and completely unrelated occasions recently on which I have offered to write relevant blog posts to help re-brand and market an organisation. One I offered for free (it’s for charidee!), the other in my effectively free time at present. Neither offer has been taken up.

The reason seems to be fear. The internet is a scary place where identities get stolen and credit cards get cleared. It swallows up hours of your time in one sitting. (Btw, this I am most definitely not disputing – the internet is one of the greatest timewasters ever invented. However, if your virtual life is as disaggregated across websites as mine, you tend to develop very effective time-management skills, very very quickly!) It’s essentially a black hole in which your personality, cash and spare time get lost for all eternity…

We need to address this. We need to educate organisations on the power of the internet. We need company bosses to communicate with their younger/more technologically involved staff members and actually put their skills to use – stop being afraid to take 20 minutes out of their busy schedules to address the online world and say “Hi! Yup, we’re still here! And wow – look what we’re doing!” – to get out there and make an audience happen.

This can’t be a rush job. We’re talking about a presence built on trust – and its a sad but true cliche that trust has to be earned. So to begin at ground level, your foundations should be laid in visibility – not necessarily transparency, but a sense of open access – and reliability – a regular and knowledgeable presence. Tweet tips, blog news, leave comments – etsablish your company as an industry insider. And don’t be put off if your audience are slow to arrive, just keep plugging away…

If you build it, they will come.



An example of social media, specifically twitter, done well? I tweeted about Lucky Voice karaoke bar before I left work today. By the time I got home 15 minutes later I had been retweeted:

Lucky Voice


4 thoughts on “Social Media Scene: why is the UK so far behind?

  1. So I see, you’ve been away but been thinking about this carefully 😉
    I agree with you and if you say UK is like that I don’t even wat to think what Portugal’s been up to.
    Internet is still a scary place for companies and individuals.
    As a mother I personally think about what dangers are lurking for my baby on the internet, what kind of people she can meet there.
    But, as in everything in life, knowledge is the best weapon.The more we know the more we find good uses for it, the better prepared we are to deal with wathever comes.

    • You’re absolutely right Cecilia – and it’s extremely important that we educate not only children on the dangers of the internet, but parents too. As you say, knowledge is the vest weapon! 😀

  2. Interesting post – and very eloquent.

    It got me thinking about the other side of the coin. The brands who have a website, a blog, a twitter profile, which laguishes in the realm of the unloved. Who have clearly been told by some great social media guru many a month ago that an internet and social media presence is necessary, a prerequisite to success, the most important trend sweeping our planet.

    The problem is that these brands are often hugely damaged by the diappointing quality that follows all their social media promises. The unreponded-to comments, the boring blogs or lack of posts, the unnegotiable dashboards and empty twitter. Peraps this is the reason so many people avoid heading internet-ward… becasue if they get it wrong, or don’t care enough, their company can be damaged.

    Essentially it needs commitment – but if a company gives that then they can only keep going up.

    • Commitment is key Lauren – hence my emphasis on reliability as a foundation stone! 😀 You have to be dedicated, even if only to 20 minutes a day, to ensuring that you at the very least answer your commenters and respond to queries. But this should just be an extension of the 20 minutes or so you spend answering emails first thing – it’s just another, essential part of the routine!


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