Like true beauty, online social conversations cannot just be bolted on from the outside. Facelifts and make-up might fool some of the people some of the time, but it’s the internal beauty that wins every time.
And so it is with social media.
Go back and read The Cluetrain Manifesto again and get that vital clue: markets are conversations.
The people who are active in social media fully expect a brand or organization to have a presence on social sites and they want to be able to have conversation with you and interact with you on those sites. You being the operative word here.
Yes, there are many aspects of social media that a consultant or agency can assist you with: listening, analysis, data mining, strategy, content development. But in the end it has to become something that is built into the DNA of your company or organization.
That will take time and some serious changes may have to take place.
Dell is a great example:
In 2005 they were hit with the Dell Hell debacle when journalist and blogger Jeff Jarvis complained about his laptop. They were pitched head first, unprepared, into social media.
After a year of trial and error – and there were quite a few errors – they started to get the hang of it.
Their blog began to get good traffic and interest. They launched IdeaStorm and really started to listen to their customers.
In 2007 Jeff Jarvis writes in Business Week that Dell deserves a “big wet kiss’ for fully embracing social media.
In 2009 Dell is listed at #2 in the Altimeter Group Engagement DB study of companies who are successfully engaging their audiences online.
2010 Dell sets up their own listening center to be able to track the conversations and mentions of the brand and embarks on a social media training program for over 5000 employees across the organization, so that social media becomes an integral part of their jobs.
Don’t for a moment think that happened without some hard decisions.
Corporate firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It’s going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation business has ever engaged in. Cluetrain Manisfesto
Dell acknowledges that this was in fact the case for their journey into social media.
What can you do to be a successful social business? Learn from others:
- Do a thorough social media audit – listen to the conversations and analyze the data
- Share your findings – customer insights, intelligence, threats opportunities, new markets – with others in the organization
- Educate the C-Suite so they really get why social business is necessary today
- Set goals aligned to business goals – with metrics in place
- Develop a content and engagement strategy and create a social media policy for the company
- Decide how you will operate your social activity – top down, hub and spoke?
- Set up your teams with cross discipline members. Aim to have it be 10% of everyone’s work, rather than 100% of one person’s work
- Train the staff members involved – and include legal and risk management
- Create editorial calendars and become a publisher of excellent, relevant niche content
- Measure and adapt
If you follow the successful actions of those who have gone through the baptism by fire and come out the other side you won’t have to suffer the same pain.
Image Credit: Nina Matthews