Twitter, Facebook and other social media are already impacting your organization.
Social media is about the social dynamics and the amplification of human behaviors, rather than the technology used. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms have cultural variations but ultimately “human nature is human nature.” Pay close attention and strive to understand such statements as, “human-web, citizen-web, crowd-sourcing,” which demonstrate that people are at the centre of it all.
With this fact in mind, it’s a safe bet that many of your employees are already engaged in various social web activities. Your organization may block access to these technologies at work and yet privately, employees are talking about how they “hate work, can’t wait to leave work” via a mobile device, “love their work but hate their boss” or worse. On the flip-side there are also folks who love their job, company and customers. Probably most importantly, your customers are also out there talking about your brand, at least you should hope they are. Either way, having your organization sitting on the sidelines with its “head in the sand” is the last option that should be exercised.
Only the brave shall pass.
In this “frady cat, uneducated” scenario I’ve seen play out more times than I care to count, decision-makers are typically the barriers to moving forward successfully. Often, managers think social media is a waste of time and honestly, there is some truth to that point-of-view. That’s correct, I just said that social media can be a waste of time. If time is purely spent on self-gratification and entertainment with little to no engagement in meaningful discussions or learning about issues, trends within your industry, that’s time wasted. Tagging photos on Facebook and offering “dude you were so wasted last night,” doesn’t constitute the kind of relationship building most managers appreciate. Having said all of this, scheduling endless meetings over coffee, or having long phone conversations without a point can also waste time, however, that activity can be made to appear productive. In the end, the sales numbers don’t lie and everyone pays the piper eventually.
The social web can be a tough transition for managers, there’s a sense of control loss. Especially for those who are not about listening to customers. I’m not an advocate for shutting all access down. A clear policy and accountability behind the use of these powerful tools and platforms should be designed and implemented. Imagine an organization of 5000 people or more all engaging positively in building brand loyalty…I suggest providing direction, education and creative solutions as a healthier alternative. By the way, this is the same flat-organization success that induces cold sweats among the “coast and collect a pay-check” managers in your midst, you can see them coming a mile away. We lose business opportunities when matched up against these folks. The social web represents a shift in business model and cultural philosophy that many want to avoid at all costs.
Your customers demand increased access
Organizational leaders should realize that many customers have learned to voice and amplify their opinions, especially when things go wrong.
This evolution means re-examining how your organization addresses customer relations. Savvy orgs will claim that (theoretically,) every employee is now responsible for the customer experience, (as it should be.) If this is true, that philosophy needs to translate online, managers following an effective social media strategy should learn how to cultivate internal evangelists and teach them to take the lead in terms of community management.
Prepare for the psychological and cultural impact
Participation within social media will definitely impact the psyche of your organization. Participation takes commitment and the bravery to push through these changes and we’ve found that this is the toughest thing for organizations to do. When was the last time you invited clients to sit down and offer their advice on how you could be better? When was the last time this event took place publicly for all to see?
If unprepared for this environment, social media can expose short-comings, insecurities, ineffective processes and dated marketing strategies.
Frankly you should probably ask yourself if your organization actually does anything of interest? “If your organizational tree fell in the forest would anybody care?” Are you irrelevant? If so, your company has larger issues at hand, like looking for a new leader. The social web can be tough and if you commit to it properly, it can also be extremely profitable and one of your most powerful tools. The question is, are you up to the task?