Businesses have been wrestling with this thing called Social Media for several years now, and while some have entered the fray, it’s still an enigma to many.
Is it friend or foe? A great benefit , or a horrible nuisance? Do we dive straight in, stick our toe in the water, or just put our head in the sand and hope it goes away?
Because this elephant can take on so many faces, there is a good chance that all of those points of view exist within the management ranks of many companies – even the ones that already have some kind of SM presence.
So what to do? If you are a leader in one of these companies, or just someone who’s looking for answers, let’s go over what I consider the business basics – those “truths” that help you cast out the elephant and provide your team with some clarity.
Social Media has certainly hit a state of pervasiveness, so you better do something. A majority of your customers and employees are frequently communicating on this platform, so there’s a lot of information flowing that way that you should be tapping into. Ignore it at your peril.
Social Media isn’t a panacea. It will not cure all of your ills, just because you’ve set up shop among the cool kids on the block. It’s another form of communicating, but it shouldn’t be the primary way- direct human interaction (via face-to-face or by telephone) still rules. In fact, if you’re really, really good at that face-to-face stuff, you may be better off just being a toe dipper.
Social Media will require you to address its usage among your employees . Another feature of this medium is its addictiveness. If your employees have access to the internet during working hours, chances are they are on some SM platform during that time. You need to set some ground rules and establish a usage policy, or perhaps end up scratching your head about the productivity declines.
Social Media has its own language protocol, and “company-speak” isn’t one of them . The users of SM have their “BS meters” usually cranked up to 10. If you are adept at plain English with a heavy accent of friendliness, then you’ll be fine if you decide to engage there. Don’t expect to thrive with what’s usually on corporate memos and press releases.
Social Media demands truth, and usually gets it. Be careful with this one. I’m not saying that all the information on SM is truthful – far from it. What you need to understand, however, is that lies can be exposed very easily there, and once you are exposed, the verdicts can be very, very harsh. A classic business example would be to exclaim on SM that you are “focused on exceptional customer service”, but yet your customers are posting hundreds of examples of when you were not.
And here’s a bonus – Social Media isn’t going away, so you need to learn to be pretty good at it. Regardless of which direction your company chooses to go, you should personally learn this medium. Pick an interest totally separate from your company to practice with. For example, say you love Chocolate. Blog about it. Learn some SEO, Twitter and Facebook tricks to attract other Chocolate lovers. Meet some of the other Chocolate bloggers and Tweeters who have become popular. Ask them questions. Learn more. Practice more. Believe me, your knowledge and savvy will pay off, especially when it comes time to apply them in the business arena.
And you’ll eat a lot of mighty fine chocolate….