zondag 19 april 2009

5 reasons why companies resist social media

Why do enterprises have so much difficulty embracing social media within their corporate culture? that's an important issue. With technology emerging, platforms and networks abundant and social interaction between consumers on the rise, why don't enterprises just don't jump into it? I detected 5 reasons why you will meet with resistance when introducing the concept of social media involvement.

1° What's the ROI?

Social Media advocates have to prove that it's more than 'chatting' and 'exchanging recipes' and gossip. You don't do that by providing traditional metrics like 'reach' or 'frequency'. The powerfulness of people interacting on social platforms goes far beyond that. Having one million Facebook fans doesn't mean a thing if these people don't interact about your service or product.

The easiest way to prove ROI is by measuring business results as compared to effort produced by the company. E.g. we were able to hire two sales managers by spending 5 hours posting and interacting through social media. There are efforts to make social topics measurable (have a look at 
Google Trends or BuzzTrend), but they don't go yet in the core of interaction.

Remedy: test and build business cases. Link to your business objectives. In the end, that's the only ROI that matters.

2° Who should be in charge of Social Media? And who will be paying it within the company?

Social media are cross-departmental. It's about customers service, customer relations, product placement and positioning, marketing, HR, selling, corporate governance... I think it would be wise for companies to install a cross-departmental cell exploring social media, and allocating budgets to them. When deliverables are tested, ready to implement and business value proved, budgets will become available. This will make it easier for social mediaters to become part and parcel of the department concerned.

3° Fear of handing over control to customers

Letting people determine how image of a company is perceived, well that's....freaky to CEO's.They want to stay in control. As we all know by now, that 'control' has been lost a long time ago. If you're in the middle of controversy (like banks or automobile manufacturers), fighting off negative news or having to deal with a bad reception of a new product (or even packaging, as the
Tropicana case proved), you will experience that losing control goes very fast when it comes to reputation, sales, stock option value, staff loyalty and finally, income. As Warren Buffett tells, "it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently. " (or 10'23'' if you're the phone house and you have to deal in real life with angry customers. In Dutch)

DON'T: confront company executives with all negative comments on twitter, Facebook, forums, etc... to make a point. They will immediately go on the defensive.

BUT: offer them a standard monitoring of some keywords of his choice by using e.g. Yahoo Pipes which allows a customer easily to view reports every day/week/month. And then go back. It will give you and them a common ground for discussion.

4° Fear of handing over control to employees

Companies have very clear regulations about blogging by their employees or using social media during working hours. With stakeholders and competition reading along and monitoring what's going on, giving much liberty to your employees to express what they think on behalf of the company can be damaging. But not interacting with your customers can be even more harmful.

Employees have their own online social networks. It can be used to the benefit of the company for recruiting, testing, marketing, sales, training, gathering information in many innovative ways. The trouble with non-customer oriented employees is that they're not always the best communicators. And that even excellent communicators may not have all necessary social media skills to blog or twitter the appropriate way.

It helps when a company has a customer service or call center operations. Address them to champion your projects.  Establish blog policies and train the people who are willing to go along with you in whatever social media skills they need to perform brilliantly.

5° Fear of marketers, advertising and PR-professionals of having their expertise being challenged by new paradigms

There are agencies and marketers out there whose main focus lies on positioning brands and products. They want to give customers a well-controlled image of the brand and product.

A second class of marketers goes for all kinds of activating the brand. Experiencing and feeling a brand is their main objective. But it's still 'we decide what you have to feel or believe about our brand' type of manager.

A third kind of marketer is to be found within DM and online. Interaction is essential, but it still follows a well-defined scenario for talking with the customer: a fill-out form on a website or a reply-form in a paper mailing.

All these communication professionals have to let go of their paradigms and experience to embrace social media. Some do, and some don't. Your efforts of providing information, sensitizing, generously sharing learnings are key to marketing and pr-departments, because other departments will turn to them for advice and guidance when they want to set up their proper social media projects.

zaterdag 4 april 2009

embrace what you preach: Michelle Obama vs Balkenende

Amazing footage about the Obama family in Europe. Not only does the President receive kisses from French women, 'mom' Michelle gives every pupil a hug after a speech in a London high school. It's the emotional flip-side from being president 2 0.

one more time: Obamanomics

Imagine Balkenende (Dutch prime minister and known for talking about high moral values and for acting in public a little bit stiff) standing before a classroom and telling: you should always try to have A grades. Always work hard. Never skipp a class. I adore being smart, and so should you. I'm the example that by working hard, you can achieve anything. I bet that the video about that speech will be a smash hit on You Tube, but not for the right reasons. It's a conservative, old school old style message which will only be welcomed by an older conservative audience.

It's not a technique, it's an emotion

But it's exactly the same message that Michelle Obama delivered to a school audience in London. What she added was that she was able to achieve success because she was surrounded by strong and caring women, family, neighbours, friends who encouraged her. The Obama's always have message and emotions in sync. And the bottom line is: if you want to connect, exchange and dialogue with the people in your network (can you name someone who has a greater emotional network on earth than Obama?) your emotions should be genuine. If you can't, don't talk. So the first lady embraces all the students. I don't think it was preconceived, look at the reaction of security in this footage.

Web 2 0: don't forget it's about emotions

In this connecting world, you follow and you are followed. You can't say one thing one day and the opposite the next, without your network reacting on that. For better or for worse, you should be genuine. You should be honest (yes, admit if you're wrong and tell why and how. People may forgive you). And you should be transparant. that's true for people and it's even more true for companies. Have a look at Glassdoor.com. When employees get a platform where they can post their salary and their opinion about management, how can you still think that you as a marketeer can 'build' the image of your company? Who will people believe? Your smart recruitment ad or the opinion of people who work there?

Persona vs persons

Web usability gurus talk about 'persona': different profiles with specific demographic, needs and interests characteristics. These 'persona' don't really exist, they are just constructions to help website architects to design flows and content for real persons who more or less behave like these persona, to find their way throughout the site. Typically, persona are constructed by market research.

The key difference between persona and real persons is that persons are real. It's as simple as that. And you can't connect to constructions. It's fake vs real. Companies should stop to behave like persona and act like persons. Building a brand is constructing a 'persona' of yourself. And if that profile you are constructing has no connection with what you do and what you sell, you become fake. Exit your company, exit your brand and exit your connectivity.

Your brand is a commitment to what you're selling

I don't think that marketeers are powerless or useless, even if consumers determine how you are perceived as a brand. You still have to compose the promise of what you're going to offer, and communicate about that. I'm going to give you access to all information for free (Google), I'm going to make it possible for you to connect with other people regardless of time or distance (Facebook), I'm going to give you products that exceed each time your expectations and are so beautiful designed that your friends will be jealous (Apple). A commitment is an emotion, an act of will. If you stay consistent with that, people will connect to you. And they will be willing to pay in one way or another, as long as you keep your promise. Even if your promise is free of charge (Google is free of charge, but you are willing to look at the ads and you are willing to pay for a high-speed on line connection. In one way or another, you pay for free).

Back to the Obama's. And a bit of Hillary too.

I like Mrs. Clinton. Read her biography. Hoped at some point that she would get the nomination and become president. I think she's a very smart woman. But look at her waving like a scarecrow, not really knowing how to react spontaneously to the genuine enthusiasm of French people (remember, the French, those people who said no to the US about going to war in Iraq). She's not only discovering what life is about in Obama world. She's discovering as well why she lost the elections.