Regardless of who should own social media, it looks like marketers have a leg up. They have been experimenting more creatively in the space so far. The Old Spice campaign was the cherry on the top of a series of interesting experiments like the IKEA store opening and the P&G Tampons campaign. That is one way to go about things.
Many companies are still looking into social media from the sidelines, because frankly business people are still waiting for that other shoe to drop. Who can blame them? The cases when a business has advanced or grown its position in the market or has engaged stakeholders in any sustainable manner thanks to social are still rare.
Meanwhile, in many organizations social media is run by PR and communications groups. Can these groups get out of their own way or the executives' way of looking at them and contribute in significant ways? Spreading press releases online is not exactly the most exciting endeavor -- especially for potential customers. When was the last time you bought or inquired about anything on the strength of a press release? Think about it.
Communicators can and must help businesses online. Increasingly, they must help reconcile the divide or gap between company shareholders and stakeholders, help the company muster its authentic voice -- internally and externally -- and deal with a different kind of crisis, that of confidence and trust.
Forget about blogs and editorial calendars, although those may be important and necessary. Here are three ways communicators can help businesses move the needle online:
(1.) find current fans of a brand and organize them or create a space for them to self organize
Who likes your company? Why do they like it? Finding evangelists and fans is only step one. Like with everything in life, you need to figure out what you do with the information. That's where the money is, in case you were wondering.
If you're a communicator, you're uniquely qualified to help organize those fans or help create a space for them to self organize.
(2.) listen and learn from negative sentiment and develop ways to help bridge problems
You're not monitoring only to find out when a crisis is imminent. The business you help support may have a lot of negative sentiment associated with its products or services for a reason or many. Do you have the integrity and the appetite for representing those sentiments and their causes to management?
You must. Communicators need to think about and represent stakeholders, not just shareholders.(3.) create interest around something a business that is irrelevant in the social space shares with others
Say the business you're in is not really a very sexy business, one that would be a natural for people to want to talk about. They may still need your product or service, they just wouldn't build a fan page for it. What do you do?
Learn from groups with a cause to champion. Find something that many of the people who purchase your product or service have in common, something they are passionate about, and that ties back to your business. Then connect them.
Communicators need to start moving away from impressions and getting into the action. The tagline of this blog ends with "how talk can change our lives", it does, it will if you put your humanity behind it.
[image courtesy of wikipedia commons]