Easier than it sounds
Last week I had the pleasure of presenting at Social Media Breakfast 9here in Boston at Ryles Jazz Club, along with Peter Kimof the company currently known as Dachis and David Alstonof Radian6. The food was good, the people were great, and the topics of exploration just wouldn’t stop. I can’t wait to do it again!
Executive support for social media
This was the topic at hand for the breakfast last week, and was it ever a good one. There is no shortage of questions on how to get executive support for social media, especially in times of budgetary cut-backs. One of the keys to gaining support (and funding) for a social media project is to show the executives the value of entering into the realm of social media, or conversely, the risk of not doing it. Sounds obvious to some, I’m sure, but I’m saying it now because it’s not necessary the first step most people take.
Those of us that are actively engaged in social media technologies know the conversations are already happening out there on just about everything, with or without us. But for those that have not ventured into this unknown, and often overwhelming and intimidating realm, it’s hard to truly imagine the impact that social media can have on your business, your brand, and your reputation. So, you must demonstrate it. You cannot ask for executive support and funding for social media initiatives just because “everyone else is doing it.” Might appeal to a few folks, but most will not buy it. You have to show them that it’s already happening – people are already talking about your brand, your company, even them.
Have you ever googled yourself?
Of course you have! So have I! But, you’d be amazed at how many companies have never googled themselves, never searched to see what other people are saying about them, their brand, their processes. They have yet to venture outside the realm of the mainstream media.
It’s really amazing when you think about it. I will google a new cell phone before I buy it to see what other people have to say about it. I read book reviews and recommendations on Amazon and any other variety of sites. I always research serious purchases online before committing to them. So, why wouldn’t a customer that’s thinking of spending tens of thousands of dollars with a corporation do the same? Oh believe me – they do. And all you have to do is show those search results to the executives you asking for support as you move forward, and you’ll have their attention, particularly given that it’s likely that 100% of what you find will not be positive.
Now that you’ve demonstrated the good, the bad and the downright ugly, it’s time to propose some action – Why don’t we take this as an opportunity to learn what we’re doing well and keep at it, and learn what we’re doing wrong, and improve upon it? This is the ultimate opportunity to react and improve customer satisfaction, right?
David illustrated this point fantastically at last week’s breakfast when he gave the example of how quickly you’d find PR reacting to a situation if there were someone standing in front of your company and screaming negative feedback to passers-by. They’d be all over that “like white on rice” according to our friend at Radian6. I couldn’t agree more. You’d never let someone stand outside your front door and remain unattended and they shared with anyone and everyone who would listen how awful your company was, so why would you do it on the web?
But, is it scalable?
One person standing outside your company in need of a response is much different than hundreds, more likely thousands of people who have the freedom to write whenever the urge strikes them. It hardly seems scalable to any degree, does it? Peter Kim touched on the concerns of scalability during his presentation, and you can read more on his thoughts on his blog, as well.
One way that we handle this is to “share the love” on EMC ONE. Each community has a team of folks that are committed as its community managers, responsible for nurturing and maintaining the welcoming atmosphere in their community. You see, the atmosphere of any community provides much of what the prospective members need to know about what they can expect there. If there are too many rules, people are discouraged from participating because they fear it won’t be accepted because it’s not sanctioned content. If there are no guidelines, people are discouraged because they don’t know what is considered fair game. But, if you have a welcoming community with open-minded and welcoming members, others will feel much more comfortable jumping in and contributing their own thoughts.
What I have found is that people really do thrive when helping other people. We are inherently social creatures, and we thrive on meaningful connections with other people. If you welcome people to contribute and connect with one another, you’ve set the stage for the natural community leaders and contributors to help with tackling the scalability issue. The community managers and members now feel a responsibility for reaching out and helping to make the community successful too. They take pride in providing a rich experience. And suddenly, they have joined my team and are my biggest supporters, evangelists and contributors in making the community valuable for others. And that gets me at least part way there.
Check out the Twitter chatter
If you’re interested in more on SMB9, check out the chatter on Twitter – search for #SMB9.
More to come