Is the Only Business Purpose for Social Media Conversing with Customers?
I was at Borders Bookstore the other night and I picked up a book titled “The Social Media Management Handbook” by Nick Smith and Robert Wollan with Catherine Zhou. These individuals work for the consulting firm, Accenture.
In the book the authors discuss the importance of organizations facing the reality that Social Media is not just a passing fad. Remember that lack of acknowledgement has been a recurring theme for anything new for as long as man has existed.
Do you recall the naysayers when the first micro computers were introduced and how they were identified as a “toy”, a passing fad, and nothing serious? Initially businesses gave them little attention; but we soon realized that was a mistake as we watched multi-billion dollar businesses sprout up around the technology and large companies that discounted or choose to ignore the technology fail as a result.
The same scenario is developing for Social Media as we see multi-billion dollar industries sprouting up; while again people, and many businesses especially, chose to ignore what is happening. Can you really afford to put your head in the sand?
Social Media Is for Conversing with Your Customers
In the book the authors spend their time talking about how advertising is changing. They emphasize the increasing importance of Social Media and how people are again getting their referrals and recommendations through word-of-mouth only this time it is from Social Media posts.
Do not get me wrong; I believe what the authors are saying. In fact I believe that in the next twelve to twenty-four months if businesses are not showing their Facebook “Likes” or other indications on Social Media that people are paying attention to their business; those businesses will be in deep trouble!
I also believe that Social Media, like the micro-computer technologies of the mid to late 70s, cannot be pigeon-holed to a single function. People will continually find new ways to apply the technology and that is where I believe the authors missed the boat. They were almost singular in their approach to the usage of Social Media, but the reality is there are many, probably unlimited, possibilities; as we let our minds explore the options.
Social Media Offers Opportunities for Internal Collaboration, Process Improvement, and Greater Efficiency
Scenario 1: Social Media can be a collaborative tool. I consulted for a large multi-national organization a few years ago. I watched as their different IT groups used the same computer technology in different locations. As new updates to the their operating systems and/or applications were released; each group would independently test and validate the updates.
I had a difficult time understanding why they were not using a Center of Excellence (CoE) to coordinate the effort and share what they learned. In fact, one of my recommendations was that they create a CoE and assign each location to test specific components of the software updates and then share the results with the other groups to make the process more efficient?
Although a great idea at the time; the collaborative capabilities of Social Media today would make this an even easier and more efficient process. In today’s Social Media environment assignments could be carved out, results could be posted, findings discussed, questions asked like “What Ifs”, and the list again goes on. Maybe you make the process even more informative and collaborative by bringing in the vendor or other experts in to contribute to the discussion. The possibilities are endless and Social Media can make it happen.
Scenario 2: Long ago I worked for IBM and when our Division released new hardware and application software we would hear rumors of what others were experiencing. Some would report a terrible experience that simply did not work and they would put out an alarm or warning; at the same time others would report the same application to be the cat’s meow. The problem was that the people having difficulty had no way to talk to their counterparts that had it working well. Social Media could have easily fixed that.
IBM/MIT Study Identifies $948 Value for Each Collaborator
In 2009, IBM and MIT released a joint study where they determined that each collaborator on a project added $948 in value to the overall project. It was determined that the quality of the solution improved, the efficiency of the process increased, and the project life-cycle was shortened because of collaboration and this was only using email. Imagine how Social Media could have had an even greater impact!
Emails can be lost or some people may not receive them; when you move to Social Media many of those problems are mitigated by the method of distribution. Social Media can improve the speed of delivery and response. Social Media is a dialog, not a monologue or series of monologues. Social Media can be a virtual real-time process.
Social Media Summary
Businesses must recognize that Social Media is not a passing fad. Social Media is here and what we see today, however sophisticated some may think, is still in its infancy. Business owners and executives must be getting involved today or they and their organizations will be left behind when tomorrow arrives.
Yes, there are concerns and issues that must be figured out; but the solution to figuring them out is not ignoring the existence of the technology.
Tom Staskiewicz speaks and coaches on structuring Social Media and Professional Networking to help businesses, organizations, and individuals establish and manage their Social Media presence to increase efficiency, improve decisions, and respond to your audiences. Your Social Media presence doesn’t just happen and will not take care of itself. Tom helps you with those processes so your Social Media efforts will work for you.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can apply Social Media within your business you can download our Top Fifteen List of Business Uses for Social Media or email Tom for information.