Every company already has the tools it needs to do that - they're called marketing communications, public relations, and customer service. They are each powerful when the proper definitions are used.
Think about it - put the relations back in with public, the communications back into marketing, and the service for customers. To help either reinforce or create a community, all you need to do is listen, hear, act on what you've heard, repeat.
I can assure you I'm fully aware that it sounds simplistic. Yet, whenever things get out of hand, one should step back and return to the basics.
People are no longer a company's best asset, they are its best technology. Contribution and connection are the new currency.
Even if your company does not allow you either resources or time to learn or use social media, you can integrate components in your thinking that will allow you to do the other activities more socially.
Eventually you will find ways to integrate small tests into your events and activities, gain insights, and build on your success. Thinking small leads to acting big. Also consider that no innovator, inventor, and entrepreneur asks for permission - they went ahead and did it. When you take the time to ask and test lots of questions, the right ones will find you. And so will the results.
Here are 7 things I learned online that I take back regularly to my work every day:
[Hat tip to Luca Sartoni]
(1.) Ideas come from anywhere
You need to stay open to them. On the web, it's
important to get along with people whose opinions don't match your own.
But it's more important to get along with the people whose ideas excite
and inspire you. These are your force multipliers. Seek them out and
curate your relationships with them.
You could apply this principle to your relationship with customers as well. Let go of having to be right every time. This means you are listening, processing, testing for yourself.
Ideas come from everywhere. In your company, you can apply this principle in the same way you would in social media. Why is it so hard? Could it be because of the next point?
(2.) Sharing and deciding are not the same thing
Way too often I notice that people fear sharing something because they think someone else will steal their thunder, or decide to use it. The hard part is doing.
If your company is smart and you have earned credibility in what you do, you should be the one leading the execution of your idea. How do you learn to make decisions? By deciding. Every day, online, you need to decide where to invest your time and attention. And so do your customers.
Now think about that campaign you'd like to go viral. Or that piece you hope people share. Sure, by sharing they are indicating interest, however conversion comes from involvement - from making a decision.
(3.) Talking needs to be paired with doing
Online, we do not care what you call yourself and what your personal brand is, what matters are results. I shared on Twitter that my philosophy is that when I spot great content I share it. I don't look at web stats at all.
Can you tell by the content when someone knows what they're talking about? Test it in meetings at your company, then let me know. Your customers test you and your products all the time.
(4.) Simple does not mean easy
As Tom Peters said in a post recently - You work longer. You work harder. You volunteer to do more. You help others with their issues. You give new meaning to the word "thoughtful." Rolling up your sleeves means you stay hungry for learning, help contribute, go the extra mile.
But careful with hubris. It's not about you, it's about being a good steward of the company or product. It's about being in service to the community.
(5.) Transparency is key
Deciding what you stand for is as hard as keeping your word about it. There comes a time when you may be tempted to take a shortcut. Don't, it will hurt you in the long run.
When marketing communications and public relations activities work less it means that they are not done properly - with feedback loops and honestly.
The only kind of spin I accept is that at the amusement park. Customers and employees deserve better. By being more transparent, you can build or find your community.
(6.) The currency of modern business is adaptability
One of the biggest take-aways I had from being online is that not everything happens immediately, especially robust results. It's not different than life, but somehow the immediacy of the tools could make you believe it does.
Yet, there are more ways to know exactly what is happening, what is working, what needs adjusting. To know what you're measuring, you need to know what you're trying to accomplish.
Adapt and change course, if you need to, but resist the urge to cram everything into one campaign or page. Think more Twitter than dissertation for your landing pages, for example. Be direct, to the point, and clear about what you're doing.
(7.) Sometimes doing more means accomplishing less
There are many distractions waiting to happen on the web. Prioritize, don't run after all the shiny things. Know what your objectives are, craft a strategy, set a course, and know what you're measuring.
Over the years, I met a lot of professionals who measured their worth by volume. I say quantity is important, but not over results.
Eighty percent of success is showing up [Woody Allen]. This is what I learned about showing up online. The rest is delivering the goods. You've got to have substance and content that provides value.
What kind of things have you learned about business by using social media? What can you take back and use in your job, without calling it a social media program?
[image, Seven by platinum]
© 2006-2009 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.