This article is the second in a series featuring our commentary on each of the Big 5 IT Trends of the Next Half Decade (original article from ZDNet). This post addresses the second IT Trend, Social Media-Social Business and Enterprise 2.0.
At this point, it’s pretty cliché to talk about how big and all-encompassing social media has become, so I won’t waste your time. However, if you still think it’s just a fad, check out this video before you read the rest of this post—I have a feeling it might change your mind. Most adult human beings with access to an internet connection have a social networking profile of some kind. So what does that mean for business? According to the article, it means there will be an entire transformation in the way business is done.
Some businesses are still slow to adapt to social media, and for good reason. The concerns about privacy and negative backlash can make a business owner feel pretty gun shy when it comes to building a Facebook page or getting a Twitter account. I can assure you that the benefits outweigh the risks. Here I take 3 social media philosophies that I’ve heard from many business owners and reframe them in a way that might help you understand how to use social media to transform your business:
1. My Intern/Salesperson/Marketing person can handle our all of our social media efforts.
Coming from a marketing person, I have to say this couldn’t be further from the truth. A business’s social media strategy is not something to relegate to an intern or any single person in your organization, at least not from a strategic level. If your business is going to be successful in social media, you have to have buy-in from everyone in the organization, especially top level management. This doesn’t mean you can’t relegate the task of publishing updates on social network profiles, but you do need to be involved with the content planning.
One business I have seen do this really well is Henderson & Godbee. H & G’s partners discussed what they wanted to feature on their new Facebook page, and then they worked with Nexxtep and their own staff to gather information and setup a publishing schedule. The partners and Nexxtep worked together to set the strategy, and the staff handles the delivery. Everyone is involved with submitting information and coming up with updates for the page.
Reframe: Your social media presence needs participation and guidance from everyone in your company, starting from the top down.
2. Something Bad Might Happen if My Business Gets a Facebook/Twitter/Insert-Social-Network-Here Page.
Last week, I had the pleasure of eating dinner with some friends from MetroOne, the young professionals group in Valdosta. Our guest of honor was Peter Kageyama, author of the book For the Love of Cities and Co-Founder of the Creative Cities Summit. Peter was also a website developer in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. During our conversation, someone mentioned how resistant some organizations are to setting up social networking profiles. They are afraid of being flamed with negative comments from customers, employees, etc. Peter responded with an interesting point: when he was approaching businesses in the early 2000’s, many of them didn’t want a website because they were scared of what would happen. That idea sounds crazy now, so imagine how crazy the resistance to social networking will seem in ten years.
If you’re worried about negative comments from customers, I can tell you that from my experience from working with dozens of businesses (large and small), it has never been a major issue. However, if you do get a negative comment, use the opportunity to address the commenter’s concerns and offer an apology (if necessary). You’ll prove that your company cares about its customers and that you are transparent.
Also, choosing not to have a social media presence will not prevent customers from talking. If they have praise or complaints about your business, they don’t need your permission to tell all of their friends via a tweet or status update. Wouldn’t you rather be there to address their comments than not know about them at all?
Reframe: According to the article, McKinsey & Co reported that social businesses have experienced 24% more revenue growth than their non-social competitors.
Imagine what will happen if you DON’T get involved with social media.
3. The only business applications for social media involve sales and marketing.
The social media revolution will bring an entire transformation in the way business is done. I’m talking about more than just Facebook and Twitter. Right now, the main focus of social media in business is using various social networks for indirect marketing and some sales (promotions, deals, etc.). That will change; businesses will become social from the inside out. Some of you are probably getting social in your business and you might not even know it!
Here are some things we’re doing here at Nexxtep:
-We use a unified communications tool to instant message, share files, video chat and co-browse the internet.
-We actively participate on a Wiki, working together to build an extensive knowledge base of information about our clients and processes.
-We use a group messaging system that can send text messages to everyone in our company.
Reframe: Social media will completely transform companies into Social Businesses.
What are your thoughts? How else do you think social media will change the business landscape?