Communication is changing, but are you?

focus group strategy jokeIf you haven’t noticed yet, the talk of the town is how to integrate social media into everyday business. Whether from a small business or a global organisation perspective, everyone’s trying to find the ‘best way’ to incorporate social media in some way to solve their ongoing business challenges.

But eventually organisations – big and small – need to evolve and discover the best ways to integrate these communication tools into their management and business practices.

A tale of two strategic approaches

Over the last few of years, I’ve seen a variety of ‘right’ approaches. First came Forrester with the POST methodology:

• People
• Objectives
• Strategy
• Technology

This approach was a good start as it spoke a language that Marketers understood – campaign strategy. But the problem with campaigns are that it’s traditionally how agencies and marketing departments organise themselves. “when are we rolling this out”, “how long will it run for” etc etc etc

This is also how many organisations, that ‘outsource’ their creative and marketing functions, start “dipping their toe in the water”, using several one off ‘social media campaigns’. The problem with a ‘campaign’ approach is that it’s one sided and social media is about communicating differently, building relationships and engaging with people. Afterall, you can’t expect relationships to deepen after a series of ‘unique campaigns’. 😉

Like Rome, relationships aren’t built in a day! Imagine telling a friend that you can only be a friend to them for 12 weeks! It doesn’t need a Degree to guess what their response would be…

On the flip side to Forrester is the Dachis Group, who published their ‘Social Business Design’ methodology stating:

The only way to compete in the future is re-organize the entire enterprise from the ground up with a framework to be a social business by design.

Now this is fantastic and I believe they’re right… But, and it’s a big BUT, I don’t know many organisations that will ‘set a side’ the way they’ve always done things to “try” a new way to grow a company. If you do I’d love to meet them(!) Let’s face it, even if the management teams agree, the shareholders will probably have something to say about it…

Happy medium – for now

So this leaves us somewhere in the middle. We can’t loose sight of the fact that we need strategy, guidelines and procedures to outline how things will get done, establish goals and metics etc (otherwise how will we know if we’re heading in the right direction…?) But, from an online communication (operational) perspective we need to ‘drop’ the word campaign from our vocab entirely! And although there are people within an organisation that “get” social media and understand how it can benefit their company, there are other people that still need to be convinced that this new “socialite medium” craze will last before they invest any of their time into it. So addressing culture change/transition will be a big factor to have answers for. (Baby steps come to mind)

… And finally

Each business is different, that’s what’s so exciting about social media – it’s not a one size fits all thing. At last the ‘generic repsonse’ can be put in the ‘Smithsonian’. The personality of the company needs to out-shine the usual corporate chatter, and this is something that cannot be copied; it’s as unique for each organisation as our own personalities are to you and me.

Ubiquity, value and change

image1425062283.jpgYou build a community, you create and share great content and identify things that are ‘ahead of the curve’. So how do you inspire others to do your storytelling for you?

This sounds challenging and many will think that to do so is time consuming, but only because they see it as ‘additional work’ on top of what they already ‘have to do’. The fact is, however, that it’s actually about changing the way things are done.

Today, brands and organisations need advice and guidance on ‘setting things up’ e.g. Social media policies, practices, integration techniques, guidelines and help setting up platforms and dashboards – but what will they need tomorrow as points of difference like ‘engagment’ become ubiquitous?

So, as social media becomes the norm, the overarching value to communication lies in the ability to innovate rather than the academic ability to define what social media is…

Key Collectors

image6657997.jpgIt took a while creating your business case for using social media internally, with many late nights and hard work, but at the heart of proposal is idea that people will be more productive through collaborating on projects using social platforms and then publishing their findings internally for all to benefit from.

Productivity increases are just around the corner… Or so you think.

However, Jacob Nielsen’s 1-9-90 theory says:

“Out of every hundred people who join a community or network – 1% actively contribute – 9% contribute from time to time – and 90% are lurkers.”

To put this into perspective, that’s like replying to only one out every one hundred emails you receive – and that’s after you’ve deleted the spam!

Take a look at your own networks (personal or business) and see how many contributers you have on there – you’ll probably find his theory unfortunately holds up.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. In fact this theory can and must be broken in order for internal collaboration to be successful.

As advocates of social media we have to educate people on the correct etiquette – which can be achieved by workshops for example; outlining from the start that contribution to this ‘hive mind’ is expected.

In reality we know that most people need some form of incentive in order to get motivated… so could something as simple as performance related bonuses or pay rises be linked to contribution levels – even discussed as part of appraisals…?

Something that my first boss told me that has always stuck with me: He came into my office one morning and noticed my bunch of keys on my desk. He asked me what they were all for? I listed about 11 keys all to do with the office. He then said, “Are you empire building or what? What if you we’re not here one day – could anyone else access where these keys opened…”

Imagine what could be done and how future projects could evolve and benefit from a hive mind …

It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it

image1693778480.jpgI blogged at the weekend on the importance of being social. But employers, business mangers, owners etc worry about employees using social media without understanding that it can be as important as say going for a round of golf and by the 18th hole a deal has been struck, or holding a ‘meeting’ in the corporate box of the local rugby side or six nations tournaments…!

But even if we’re not pulling out a 3 wood or shouting out the odd blue word when one of the opposing team makes an interception, runs for 50m and strides over the line for try (personal experience coming through there) we’ve been social for so long in so many other ways it makes you wonder what the negativity regarding social media is all about:

• When you call someone to tell them you’ve heard about a potential opportunity for them… you’re being social
• When you share another blogger’s post with your blog readers or Twitter followers… (blatent hint – ahem cough) you’re being social
• When you hand out a business card… you’re being social
• When you return phone calls, respond to emails, post a tweet, write on forums or post comments – you’re being social

Being social is a HUGE part of the business function because people don’t do business with businesses; people do business with people – and with people they like and enjoy being around…

So the real question is, are you taking FULL advantage of the social networking you (or your team) are already doing by exploring different ways of doing what you’ve naturally done for a very long time?

It starts with hello: being social

image319657803.jpgBeing social and using social media are two totally different things.

Many businesses view social media as a way to:
• raise awareness of their products and services – their offering – and hope that this will be enough to capture new customers/clients
• engage people with their organisation and hope to ‘push’ them further along the purchasing path

This is how many believe social media can help – but all it shows is a lack of understanding and that either they or their organisation aren’t socially minded, which will probably mean that it will come back and bite them on the bum!

It’s easier for organisations to see social media as nothing more than a new and powerful “communications channel“- to continue broadcasting the same message

However, because of that, it is much harder to create a organisational culture that is social than it is to use social media. Being ‘social’ should be an organiations’ intent, but what we’re mainly seeing is that the actual intent is just to use social media…