Social media is one of those decisive elements. It helps separate successful companies from the pack. Most businesses by now have a Facebook page, a Twitter handle, and a LinkedIn page allowing them to claim that they are “social”. However, establishing a true social presence goes far beyond the Facebook page or the Twitter handle. According to Socialized! How the Most Successful Businesses Harness The Power of Social author, Mark Fidelman, brands that fail to realize this are only setting themselves up for failure.
“With the advent of social, communications have become a two-way street. Brands like Kodak, Zagats and Netflix that don’t connect successfully with their customer and employee ecosystems risk bankruptcy,” says Fidelman. He believes that companies that haven’t fully embraced social are not only hurting themselves but also taking on a lot of unnecessary risk. For example Fidelman points out that, “Businesses like Netflix that continue to rely on traditional arm’s-length relationships with customers and who try to dictate the relationship rather than participate in it will find it increasingly difficult to succeed.” He also points out that brands like Netflix are significantly hurt by social media’s effects primarily because they aren’t listening to their customers – as shown by their failed attempt to split the company’s streaming and DVD rental service.
Fidelman believes that the future of social will focus on connecting people with people, and people with information. It will be all about getting the right person for the right opportunity at the right time, which will yield the best result possible. That makes a lot of sense. If you look at today’s enterprise social tools this is what most are already promising. Curious as to who’s doing it right? Fidelman points to IBM. “IBM is an excellent example of where we’re headed. The company encourages the use of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs to support their sales, communication, marketing and recruiting efforts,” says Fidelman. The company’s had pretty good success. Their experiments into social have led to developing a set of social business conduct guidelines to help govern their employees’ social interactions.
IBM is also experimenting with and utilizing gamification and crowdsourcing to help reduce the costs of internal projects. They employ social analytics to help turn all the chatter into business insight and use it to base recommendations as to what an organization needs to do better its financial results.
Fidelman also offers up several strategies for businesses who want to be more forward-thinking and capitalize on social (and who doesn’t want that?) He points out that “The public relations soapbox doesn’t cut it anymore; communications are now a two way street.” This means that companies now more than ever, must work with thought leaders to generate open communication. Today’s customers no longer have the trust that they used to. They don’t trust your advertising. Instead today’s customers place their trust in recommendations from friends or individuals that they’ve been following on social media for years. For businesses, it means making it a priority build relationships with their influencers. Once connected, it’s important for the two to work together to help educate target customers about the pain that they are currently experiencing, pain that your product can help solve.
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Ward also suggests companies should work at building internal online communities. “To support an adaptive organization, employees need to connect, share, and expand on ideas.” He believes that building an internal online community is a critical part of becoming a more social, adaptive organization. “Your company’s employees must have the ability to share insight with each other easily and visibly,” says Fidelman.
There you have it. Developing a social media plan is only growing in importance, and as you can see if you and your organization don’t have one in place, then odds are you’re missing out.