Embracing social media for sustainable growth requires a totally new way of envisaging and operating your entire organisation. The social media juggernaut is here and has been for some time. Social media has rapidly evolved from a gimmicky broadcast toy to an important, interactive, and conversational tool.
Current research reveals that use of social media sites in Australia, for both consumers and business, is increasing exponentially. According to the 2012 Yellow Social Media Report, which surveyed Australian businesses and their use of social media over the last year, the proportion of small businesses that harnessed the power of social media almost doubled to 27 per cent. But, it is also clear that businesses now need a considered approach to maximise the potential of social media adoption.
Here are some tips:
Changing the corporate mindset
Businesses need to stop thinking ‘Social Media’ and look at becoming a ‘Social Business’ whereby online interaction is not seen as just a marketing initiative, but an embracing of the social attitudes, behaviour and practices in all business functions from sales to operations, recruitment and learning.
Social means engagement, so you need to actively create better connections with your customers, prospects, suppliers and employees. Your website states who you are and what you do, but a blog reveals the talent within, what you think as an organisation. A blog personalises your business, and explains how you differentiate it from your competitors.
At UXC Connect we have developed a blog which aims to tell the stories of our culture. We update it regularly to detail the thoughts and ideas of our employees, to empower them and explain to others what it means to be an employee of the company.
Understanding the purpose of social media
Understanding why you aspire to become a social business and setting the parameters for your social engagement is paramount. Businesses need to understand the motivation for becoming a social business.
Is delving into social media an extension of your web presence or pushing it further to converse with customers and prospects about your products and services? Do you wish to become a thought leader in a particular area of expertise via blogging or is it just to remain competitive in your industry?
Once you know why you’re making this significant investment in time and money, it’s easier to determine the best outcomes and return on this investment.
Commissioning expert help at this point will deliver a precise picture of what the social media landscape currently looks like, what’s coming through and how to optimise these connected technologies. This recommendation comes with the proviso that the expert must be able to make the link between the social space and business imperatives; ensuring that they have practical experience and a global perspective.
No matter your perspective on the importance of social media, in any business, when you put yourself out into the wider public domain, you are subject to both positive and negative feedback and conversations. It is important to develop the capabilities to harness the positive influencers, as well as employing vigilant monitoring to manage the negative (from passing comments to a viral crisis). This is the whole of business imperative that requires active planning and management.
True listening: sharing and action in the new social culture
A social culture has two main features, listening and sharing.Many organisations are used to listening to their stakeholders through surveys, monitoring tools and other feedback mechanisms.
As a Social Business, you’ll need a true listening culture that broadly monitors social sites for mentions and scans for opportunities. By listening for “I’m interested in finding out about…” you are in an active position to identify a warm opportunity and convert a loyal customer.
Additionally, social business value can also be extracted from sharing thoughts, ideas and experiences from various sources to assist your position as an influencer, or a thought leader – by creating value in and for your defined community.
It’s important to remember that when sharing, listening and responding, each post must have an objective, a follow through and measurement of ROI for your business.
A paradigm shift
Shifting the business mindset from developing a strategy around social media to developing your business into a Social Business cannot be overstated. By understanding your business as a social entity that engages with customers, clients and employees in a positive way while continuously monitoring for negative interactions is the foundation of using the social revolution to benefit the business and help achieve the business’s goals and objectives.