It used be that you had to be in the news to be important. Now you have to have a huge Twitter following and hundreds of thousands of fans on Facebook. Indeed if you can get tens of thousands of people to follow you on Twitter then you have the publishing power of the New York Times or a lifestyle publication such as GQ. In short, with the right following your pages become the media you’ve always wanted. Of course, if you are already famous getting that following is far simpler than if nobody has ever heard of you. So ironically, to get a large following on Twitter (so that you can rely less on the media), you are probably best getting some great media exposure. But if you do that then you will need to pay attention to your media profile and that will dilute your ability to manage your online profile (unless you have unlimited resources). Regardless of how you build your following on Facebook or Twitter, what you cannot avoid is creating content of at least 140 characters in length that people want. Computer programmers like to say: garbage in, garbage out. This is essentially the law of social media and networks. If you don’t participate by creating a point of view that is entertaining, interesting or educational, you are likely to find your following dwindle and your profile plummet. Yet so many companies plan what they are going to say to the media with military like precision and then tweet and give Facebook updates as an after thought. Is it time that got reversed? Perhaps not but it is time that brands mapped out the conversations they want to have with their social networks in ways that made gave those conversations real depth and value. Random tweets are all well and good but they do little to build the brand and could even do more harm than good. What’s more you can use these networks as central part of your comms plans, not as bolt-ons. In other words you can create communications activities that were DESIGNED for Facebook and or Twitter, rather than comms that were designed for the media and then simply echoed by these social networks. Why am I making this plea? Quite simply because I’ve realized I now spend far more time reading comments on Twitter and Facebook than I do with the media. Sure I often get directed to the media by these networks but more often than not, if it’s not on Twitter or Facebook it’s not getting anywhere near as much of my attention as it could and I’m sure I’m not alone.