The kiss of death for many businesses in the era of Social Media is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” or worse “but we’ve always done it this way”.
As author and Principal at Altimeter, Brian Solis says:
“We live in an era of “digital Darwinism, a time when technology and society are evolving faster than the ability of many organizations to adapt. It is for this reason (along with a myriad of other problems of course) that in fact killed Borders, Blockbuster, Polaroid and the like.”
Even if you’re not comfortable with the ever-changing landscape of “social”, face it – it’s here to stay.
Your clients are using Social Media to research and Google you. They are using channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube etc to communicate with each other, give reviews, share thoughts and feedback.
You’re not going to beat ’em, so you had better join ’em.
The challenge for leaders is that “top down” has to justify expenditures and manpower from the financial needs of the business. Communication, marketing and Public Relations is usually done with a lot of control and an iron fist to mitigate risk.
“Bottom up” wants to ensure they are servicing the customer the best way they possibly can. They hear what the clients are saying and have to solve their problems every day.
In today’s economy, when your clients can Google anything, and have more options, they are more educated and more empowered than ever before.
Word-of-mouth used to be limited to a few dozen people, not it reaches thousands.
This article from McKinsey states that:
“The dynamics of social media amplify the need for qualities that have long been a staple of effective leadership, such as strategic creativity, authentic communication, and the ability to deal with a corporation’s social and political dynamics and to design an agile and responsive organization.”
Social Media is ever-changing and overwhelming for even the most seasoned experts.
The simple solution to it all is to get laser focused.
Align Social Media initiatives with business objectives.
Take a look at your company’s mission. I’m sure it probably says something about ensuring you are servicing and meeting the needs of your client base.
- Start with a strategy: What can your company do to ensure you are solving your clients’ pain?
Who is your ideal customer avatar? What do they want from you? Where are they connecting online?
What are some KPIs that you can measure? (Remember, not everything can be measured)
How can you educate and empower them with knowledge. In the past, we used to hoard our knowledge but know information is everywhere. People are not buying information, they are buying implementation.
- Listen and learn
Listening is one of the most important factors in Social Media. When creating the strategy, it’s important to do a deep dive to speak to your audience in their “language”. You want to mirror back to them that you understand their pains and want to help them. You’re an ally and a collaborator.
Use proper netiquette in the proper channel. Remember, one size does not fit all. You can’t simply take content from one channel and throw it up on another channel and expect it to work. They are all different.
- Empower your spokespeople to effectively communicate your brand’s messages.
Be prepared with a content calendar of what you want to say and when you’re going to publish it. Ensure the messages are tailored to your audience. It doesn’t always have to be brand focused; it can be simply information your community fill find useful.
Ensure you have a crisis plan in place. What happens if someone does say something bad? How will you handle it (often times, this simply means taking the conversation “offline). Who will oversee and govern all the communication?
- Encourage your brand ambassadors (your staff and stakeholders) to disseminate and share your accomplishments.
No one is happier to share success than people who have been closely involved with it. Once the messages have been crafted and vetted, encourage your team to share with their networks.
Ideally, your staff should also have a consistent brand message on their LinkedIn profiles so they are properly represented on the world’s largest business networking site.
- Measure, monitor, repeat.
As I mentioned, you can’t measure everything. A lot of qualitative information is happening offline too. But, much of your data can be tracked and analyzed, and you’ll know within 24 hours if your message is resonating with your audience. It’s like one big giant focus group that is accessible immediately.
Continue to stay on top of emerging trends. It may not work for your business, but perhaps you can see opportunities where no one else can. Can you “twist” an idea from one vertical and see how a great experience from a completely different field can help to transform your company.
Look at Virgin Airlines for example. They are constantly innovating and pushing the limits of exceptional customer service. How can your company be more innovative?
Status quo will no longer work. The power and the pocketbooks reside with your clients.
As Brian Solis remarks, you have to “evolve or die”.