In recent studies I have conducted, major companies and organizations are still behind when it comes to using social media and the web to create brand awareness, brand recognition and brand loyalty. (Of course, not everyone is behind.) Based on case studies and research I’ve come to a conclusion one must have an understanding of human behavior, not the tactics and platforms being used on the web to communicate. Social media within it’s self is not just a communication method, it’s a deep-rooted behavior built into us all to connect, find belonging and feel a part of something larger than our self. Most corporations are too fixated on current processes to evolve to this changing media environment. They seem trapped on ROI versus ROE (Return On Engagement). Six months ago things were different on how people used the web; simply put, the people that use the web changed how they were using it, just like the previous six months before that and so on. Organizations of all types need someone in place that can evolve WITH “how” people are using the web. This is now a full time job. I could spend 10 hours a week just on our twitter account. That’s just twitter on one account! Many organizations are vastly underestimating this role or what’s even required. For the first time in the “corporate” world we have developed a definitive role for any company that has a flexible undefined structure, but it is a structure none-the-less.
There needs to be constant interaction and exploration in order for a company to stay “in the game” when it comes to these platforms. This is simply NOT happening in the majority of the case studies I have read. We all hear the success stories, but not the thousands of other businesses that are trying and failing. The person (not a “company logo”) that is doing the social media should have a keen understanding of how people are using the web. The billions of people that use the web determine how they want to use it. It’s up to technology companies to keep up. It’s important to recognize the reversal. Now we (users) can create something if we feel a need. From an organizations point of view, there needs to be constant exploration of the public solutions and ongoing feedback from the employees, after all, they are using the web just like everyone else. Companies are hiring someone to stay in a “set” role versus have that person evolve with the people that control the web, the billions of users. Inevitably they fall behind because it was “not” in their job description to explore. By the time most corporations realize what happened they are already behind. What is never going to change is human interaction and content. As long as you a person and you send out the right content, the evolution of the platforms can change as much as they want. But, you must have something to say that is beyond talking about you. I said “behavior” earlier right? Here is the behavior part that most people don’t recognize. Ever talk with someone and all they do is talk about them self? The conversation is great for them! How is it for you? Same principles apply on the web; it’s a behavior.
How does all of this fit in with internal and external communications within an organization? I’m looking at the same box as everyone else, just from a different perspective, like the rest of your potential audience. It will have everything to do with conversations and stories that can connect an audience to each other; so long there is a sense of belonging. In other words, how can your organization be the glue to connect people? If you look at things as they are, all we want is a sense of belonging and value. That’s what the web provides for all of us, to easily be connected, find belonging and value. At the end of the day if your company can’t provide that without the web, what makes you think it can on the web? It’s important to note, I personally believe having a face of an organization to make those connections holds more weight than a company. However, in the end it will be the brand as the reason “why”. To clarify, it’s easier for people start a conversation with other people than it is for a company to start the conversation. It’s also easier for people to interact with people on an ongoing basis and letting the brand be, again, the reason why you are interacting.
Look at your company for what it is. Is there a clear social media or viral component to your company? If not, you have to create one that has a story or conversational tone that’s not about you. What I do as a brand strategist can be scaled for any organization no matter the size, because the principles never change. It never extends beyond natural human behavior. Will this take a good team that “gets it?” Yes. That is key in making this work. Most corporate cultures are resistant to change. Change is vitally important so the people in the organization understand this role of a social media “spokesperson” and how to do it the right way. It’s very much a bottom up approach. It’s not a campaign; it’s a commitment. It’s a commitment to having a keen understanding on human behavior and how communication is changing the world in which we do business.
Author: Richard Harmer, Brady Media Group