I’ve been spending quite a bit of time recently with CEOs talking about Social Media and its impact on their business. Most conversations tend to begin with “My marketing guy tells me that I need to do it, and that our firm needs to do it, but I just don’t understand why”. In most instances they’d really rather “it” just went away so they could continue with business as usual and not have something else on their plate that they needed to attend to.
A natural response might be to offload the “problem” of social media to the marketing guys that first added it into the mix - assuming in doing so that social media can and should be treated like another marketing communications campaign tool - there to drive awareness, to create sales leads, to help maintain and build brand loyalty. Done right, of course, social media can play a part in all of these things and, in my view is rapidly becoming core to the way many businesses need to focus their marketing.
The problem is, if you just do this, then you’re completely missing the opportunity. Here’s three reasons why:
Reason One: People buy from People
Any good sales guy will tell you that the main reason they win and continue to win repeat business is that they have developed and maintain a great relationship with the key people at that account. We’re all stretched these days though and business life has changed so much over the years that long lunches, afternoons on the golf courses and evenings spent in the pub in order to foster and develop those relationships during down time are increasingly a thing of the past. With a bit of training, social media channels can be an invaluable resource for helping sales guys understand, to get close to, and more importantly to stay close to, prospects and customers, no matter where they are located.
Reason Two: Living Your Brand Values
If you claim that your customers come first and you hang on their every word, that your employees are motivated & dedicated, that your business cares about it’s community and the environment, then Social media is the place you can demonstrate that day in, day out in a low cost, high touch way. Rely purely on an underling in your marketing team to post to twitter, facebook et al. your latest press release and you end up with a thin veneer of shallow “market speak” that does little to give you and your business the personality and presence you desire.
Social media gives you the opportunity to empower every employee from the CEO down, to listen and respond - to be proud, be unhappy, to challenge, to question - and to promote the hundred and one ways every day that your employees are working hard for their customers. Of course it comes with risks, but if you believe in what you do, and are proud of the people you have and the work they do - then the upside can be great. Remember reason One - social has the ability to enable everyone in your team to be an advocate of your firm, not just the sales folks..
Reason Three: Connecting the “strata” of your organisation
It’s a little trite, but it makes it no less true, we’re all sales people for our companies every day and with social media it gives us the ability to start to “interlock” our businesses through relationships that span the “strata” of our organisations much more easily. CEO “links in” with CEO, engineer to engineer, sales to procurement, marketing to marketing and so on - the tighter we holds hands, the better we understand each other’s business and motivation, the quicker we identify pain points and resolve them, the better it is for everyone. And don’t just think about “up” the chain, but “down” the chain to - to engage with your suppliers. If yours is a consumer product or service, it’s easy to concentrate solely on relationships with that consumer, but what about the network of channel partners and suppliers through which the product was brought to market, and our relationships with them?
The point is this. Social Media is not a marketing tool, any more than telephones, email, fax machines etc. are. It’s a universal two way dynamic and responsive communications channel which, if embraced in the right way, can make many facets of your business, not just your marketing, more effective.
In my next post, I’ll share some tips on how to build your own strategy for integrating social media across your business and the what and how of measuring effectiveness.
Andrew Moloney, Managing Director, Artisan Southwest Consulting
Before launching his own consulting business in early 2011, Andrew Moloney served in a variety of marketing and business development positions at RSA Security, which became part of EMC back in 2006, ultimately serving as RSA’s EMEA Director of Marketing, and one of the key spokespeople at EMC on the broader impact of Cloud Computing.
Now based in the Blackdown Hills of Somerset he practices what he preaches, using the cloud to enable him to operate all facets of his business. Find out more here.