I think one of the biggest issues that organizations face today, as they navigate the social media landscape, is how they view the consumer disruption as a result of Social Media. Brands, in my opinion, could be helping to alleviate the chaos by lessening the noise that comes out of their own organizations. They need to learn how to become valuable resources to their stakeholders in the market. Of course, it takes time, effort, resources and commitment to develop a Social Media program and to participate in the social economy the right way.
How many brands do you know of that are not taking full advantage of the social economy, social capital and true community building? Many organizations are focusing on Social Media and the needs of the MEdia generation (as discussed in Brian Solis‘ blog post, “Significant“) as a huge change that will impact their overall business with respect to resources, responsibilities, process, infrastructure, and technology, as well as communications. Rather, they are simply seeing the shift in consumer behavior and media consumption as a communications challenge in their PR and marketing departments.
That’s not enough! Viewed this way, companies start to implement Social Media programs for the sake of keeping up with competitors, who got a head start in social networking, or because of the “cool” factor. Being an effective part of the social media landscape goes beyond a company’s communications department. However, not many professionals understand why it’s important to step back and rethink process, infrastructure and technology; by doing so they will get so much more out of participating with customers in web communities. At this stage, I believe there are many companies that don’t even know where to begin.
Companies need to start focusing on change management so that their organizations are better equipped to navigate the social landscape. Throughout the organization, employees should learn and embrace the new media vision, strategy, technology, and cultural shift taking place as a result of Social Media. I think that chaos can be managed first internally through education, understanding, commitment, and participation. But, if every brand continues to jump into the Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube without everyone internally ever understanding why they are there or how their consumer wants to interact with them in these platforms, then the chaos escalates. It has the potential to turn into mayhem and brands will eventually lose equity, mindshare and profit.
The approach and the journey to achieve goal of relationship status and subsequent rewards are often overlooked at the company’s peril. For brands, it should start with a deep internal understanding (through their employees) and then it can be successfully launched externally to reach the company’s business goals. After all, our employees are our evangelists, and they can help or hurt us when it comes to the social Darwinism and survival of the fittest. They are a huge part of how brands navigate the social economy and can engage in community building and aide in the content management for their companies.
Bottom line: In order to build better relationships with the MEdia generation and to navigate the social economy, companies need to learn their role in minimizing the chaos, lessening the noise and diminishing the confusion. They shouldn’t be adding to it! This starts with an internal focus. Have you focused on any internal efforts before launching your Social Media program?