We are at the point where just about every company is starting or active in social media in one form or another. No need to evangelize social anymore. Everyday, I scan the news for articles on social media and there are tons. In the past weeks, I have seen a majority questioning the success of social media. But we can not go from everyone’s doing it to the next question of “Is it working?” Something very important is missing.
Are you going about social media with the right mentality and approach? It is not about having a Facebook fan page and Twitter account. It is more about having the right attitude, style, and engagement mentality on these platforms as well as OTHERS. Can you really expect to have social media success if you are not actively engaging, building relationships, and, well, being social?
There is also another piece. When I’ve made a career change, headhunters and prospective companies asked me, “What are you looking for? A startup, emerging, big company?” I always answer the same thing. Size does not matter. Spirit does. Entrepreneurial companies are what attract me, because they are the winners.
Now this term entrepreneurial is thrown out all the time. But what does it really mean. Well let’s start by looking at the formal definition of entrepreneur. According to Merriam-Webster, an entrepreneur is “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” Key word here – risks.
And this is the pinnacle part as it relates to my interests, and even more importantly, social media. No company, and I do mean no company at all, will be successful with social media if they are not willing to take risks and accept some degree of failures to occur in plight for big wins. If your company is waiting for a social media recipe with guaranteed results, as opposed to taking calculated risk, forget it.
On topic to this discussion, I just finished reading Seth Godin’s latest book, “Poke the Box.” I have always found Seth to be creative, inspirational, and one of the best marketing minds. The emphasis of Seth’s recent book is really two-fold. 1) The need to not just have good ideas, but the requirement to get started and release something. 2) Pushing educational and corporate cultures to have a greater acceptance of failure, because from failure we learn and spawn great things. Creativity is totally sapped without an acceptance of failure.
The book speaks to individuals. Yes, social media requires leaders. Leaders that start things and push for success. I often use a rubber band analogy to make a point about introducing social media to an organization and/or change management in general. In order to provoke positive change, it is your responsibility as a leader to view your organization as a rubber band. It is your job to stretch and expand the rubber band, but not push too much to cause the rubber band to snap. Each rubber band size and elasticity varies by culture. Understand the environment you are in and stretch.
So back to social media success possibilities within a company. Is the right mentality in place? What does that rubber band look like? What is the willing elasticity and stretched factor of the organization? Are they entrepreneurial to take risks and accept failures?
Social media is not about being “right.” It is about connecting with people to find the right. Build strong relationships. The right as defined by your target audience. The relationships with your targets will tell you (indirectly) how to be a success.
At the highest level, social media’s objective is getting the prospects and customers to love your brand. Could you have a stronger relationship? Is your organization really ready to take this on as an objective and put appropriate KPIs (key performance indicators) in place to measure this?
Do organizational boundaries exist that prohibit this? I’ll give you an example on the contrary …
I am part of an Innovation Team where I currently work. I represent the marketing discipline on the team. We are about to launch a very cool video application for smart phones (iPhone first, then other platforms). About a week and a half ago, we had a meeting to discuss launch plans. I lead the meeting to discuss our go-to-market and continuing activities and some things that need to be resolved. I brought up the issue of customer support and questioned who was going to own this responsibility. Our COO responded immediately to me – “Your team.” Formally in the big corporate structure, I run the social media team, not a customer support organization. But our COO was exactly correct. I said social media is about getting your customers to love you and customer support certainly plays a key role here.
Here is another point on the potential of the organization getting in the way of social success. .. A number of months ago, I wrote an article “People Have the Power – a Social Media Story.” I told the story of having a problem with my cable provider and not getting resolution from “customer support” but rather someone in PR picking up a tweet I made and working the issue to resolution. From a customer/user perspective, do I really care about organizational boundaries or do I care about a brand that shows me love when they are looking to capture me as a customer and continuing to show me love as a customer. Continuing, seamless love – How powerful is this if you really accomplish this within your brand?
So when you put it all together, I am suggesting that some companies have no chance at all of social media success. Wrong attitude; wrong results. If you are not entrepreneurial, social and committed to building strong relationships and customer love, don’t expect a miracle. Make sure your culture fits the requirements for social success. If this is so, we will see an overwhelming number of winning business cases.
Make It Happen,