Social Business Reality Check

There are some very good ‘words of wisdom’ in this recent blog post by Robert Strohmeyer of PCWorld – Social Business Reality Check: Move Beyond the Hype

Key points are as follows:

  • For every ‘wild’ social media success story, there are thousands of companies that followed the advice of overpriced social marketing gurus, invested crucial time and human resources into tweeting their hearts out, and ended up with nothing to show for it. ‘Beware the Social Media Charlatans’ – unqualified social media consultants preying on businesses in the rush to the social Web
  • One of the main reasons for social media ‘failure’ is that organisations often underestimate the complexity and depth of the social Web. In particular, companies often ignore the open nature of social media. Rather than recognizing Facebook and Twitter as places where people can talk about brands, most business people think of their social streams as a free broadcast booth from which to shout their marketing message
  • Social media is about listening first. While there is nothing wrong with companies posting content for followers to engage with, more time and effort should be invested in listening to what other people are already saying about your brand–whether they are following you or not. Knowing what customers and non-customers think of your company and your products (and what they say about you online) is likely to be at least as valuable to your marketing effort as spewing an endless stream of slogans broadcasting your latest deals
  • The implication of this is that rather than paying someone just to think up clever 140-character messages throughout the day, get them to directly engage the people who are already talking about your brand; taking the opportunity to gather and understand this feedback. There are good Social Media Monitoring Tools available for doing this
  • An overworked assistant who has been saddled with social media duties without the benefit of adequate training or resources can turn outspoken critics into mortal enemies. On the other hand, a compassionate, savvy communicator who understands and respects the power of social business can turn outspoken critics into raving fans

The sentiments expressed in Robert’s article match exactly our own thinking about social media. During our numerous workshops, we spend a good deal of time covering the ‘Key Things to Remember about Social Media’. These include the following:

  • It’s called social media because its social
  • Social media represents a major power shift to customers, to the network. Recognizing and accepting this power shift is the cornerstone of future success
  • Traditional approaches to sales, marketing and PR are much less effective in a social media environment. Does anyone listen to sales/brand messages anymore?
  • In social media, the customer decides what information they wish to access
  • New ‘mindsets’ are required where marketing is seen as a two-way conversation with your customers/your network– dialogue not broadcasting as argued by Robert in his article. This is something that most of us are not very good at doing. We prefer ‘telling’ people how good we are
  • There will be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in social media. ‘Winners’ will be those companies who fully utilise the interactive power of social media for engaging with and energising customer and network relationships
  • In a social media era, new business performance measures are required. Measures that focus on the quality of your network and relationship strength as important drivers of future success

A follow-up post will discuss these points in more detail.

As usual, comments and feedback are very welcome.

Jim, Alan and Vincent

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