Yesterday we talked about how funny shows like The Office and Better Off Ted were/are – until they’re a mirror into our own business lives.
And I wanted to take a closer look at the idea that business is missing several essential elements of social media. Because of how critical human interaction is to the process businesses that are purposely set up with mechanized glory in mind fail.
For some the answer to a social media’s bad fit is to just skip social media, or put it off for another day.
Be it the solo entrepreneur operating a Kindle publishing mini-empire, a family-owned pizzeria, or a nationwide insurance company chain, you can’t afford to wait until it’s too late to start using social media to help circulate your content – and you simply must have content to be in the conversation, not to mention the fact that it’s the most proactive form of reputation management.
To simply ignore social media is to do so at your own peril.
People don’t read the newspaper anymore, they log in to Facebook, and let their friends lead them to news web sites or applications. This shift can be seen as a lost opportunity or as an entirely new way to directly reach your customers, and to develop a relationship before they need you. Then you can be the obvious choice when they’re ready to buy.
Which brings us back to the hard part – there’s an extreme disconnect between
- the way companies traditionally work,
- the content most enjoyed by pivotal groups in social media, and,
- how people typically use their various social media tools.
I’m sure you’ve heard this next part before but it’s important enough to repeat.
We Humans Have Built a Machine That Could Destroy Our Livelihoods
Social media is shaped and driven by the things that make us fundamentally human. Forming, operating, and marketing corporations are actions traditionally shaped by the notion that companies are best run as efficient machines.
And yet there are people inside these machines – and it is those people, not the mechanized, politicized, organizational structure, that people will connect to on some level. So you’ll need people inside the company to connect with the people outside the company via social media.
Here’s where the problems then come – who owns what?
Who is allowed to speak and who isn’t?
When there’s a crisis, what’s the response procedure?
What are the 25 things we have to check off on the list before we can make a blog comment on another blog using the company URL?
In the age of the old media, this was fine. Press releases were mailed or faxed. Showing up in print or television news gave much more lead time to plan all these things out, and put processes in place that we relied on.
Advertising wasn’t subject to the opinions of people because most offended parties were not upset enough to write a letter, which then had to find its way to someone with influence. By that time the commercial in question may have been old news, and a new one in production.
But Twitter is happening
… ten minutes ago.
There’s already a Facebook group somewhere discussing the problem they have with how your company (or one like it) responded to that national crisis yesterday, and how they hope you’ll solve it.
People are acting, moving, and your company is getting left behind.
There’s a strategic issue at hand here. Because social media is so human and companies are so mechanical, the instinctive urge to slap social media on top of whatever we’re doing often fails. It’s like putting a band-aid on a broken leg- though the attempt at some repair may be appreciated, in practical terms, it’s completely ineffective, and as such, useless. Proper implementation is key.
And the social aspect of the tools are not the only issue – it is the impact the way the new media is being used and changing so many things, so rapidly.
Can We Put Our Companies Back on Track By Cutting Off Our Robotic Arms?
There’s a much bigger wave just underneath the surface of social media that is the threat to any stagnant company. We must change our companies from the inside out in some very key ways.
- To succeed in social media, we must be people-centered.
- Once we’re centered on the people inside and outside our company, we will want to listen to what their concerns are, because…
- … We’ll have to get their attention in a way that’s a bit different than the way people related one on one. To woo them, we’ll have to produce content they find relevant, so that there’s a reason for dialogue since…
- Dialogue starts the key conversations/connection that lead to subscriptions, clicks, and/or sales. And then?
- We have to maintain that attention, not merely through content, but through connection, since that’s largely how the web is re-orienting.
I realize that I haven’t proven a single one of these hypothesis, nor am I linking to places where they are demonstrated. There are multiple sources that help bear these examples out that we’ll be discussing in future days.
First up will be our next few discussions, which will rest on a discussion on what being people-centric means in practical terms. How will we need to change? IS your company truly getting there, or is it just paying lip service to the idea? What are the key areas where we need to improve if we are truly centering around people?
This discussion will include some pretty fun embarrassing situations I’ve found myself in. Until then, try this visual exercise.
Imagine a hug. Warm arms that envelop you, the almost palpable wave of emotion migrating from another person to you. Who can truthfully argue that hugs suck?
Not most emotionally stable people.< And while our mission is certainly not to hug our customers, we often have the intention of embracing technology that helps us serve our clientele. But picture that hug again - only this time imagine that you have the arms of a super-strong robot, who isn't programmed to understand how much pressure to apply. In your imagination, I'm willing to bet that you either crushed your hug-ee into jelly, or gave them one of those butt-out, barely touching non-hugs. Even in our minds, robots can't quite do the jobs that we can as humans, though they are suited for certain things. Your robotic arms represent your company, and the person you're hugging represents social media. Feel me now?