Category Archives: crm

Will the real social media expert please stand up?!

Just about everyone I meet these days claims to be a social media expert but 2minutes into the conversation, one realizes that apart  from the general gushing  over Twitter and blogs, there isn’t much else. So, I cheered when I saw this great blog post on 25signs of a strong SM consultant (which incidentally also  inspired my first blog post of 2009).

My favorite one on the list is,

 “#25 Understands that social media isn’t the sole terrain of marketing or PR and helps clients educate internally to other departments.” 

Although, it’s easy to think of social media as just Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, there’s much more to social media than just a handful of tools and websites.

The social media revolution is a  fundamental shift in the way customers are using and sharing information across the web. Marketing/PR are  no longer one-way channels, the consumers now have the power to take information your company puts out there and do with it as they please. They can blog it, digg it, stumble it, twitter it, etc. across their social networks and the scary part is that you might not even know about it until it”s too late. 

For me, one of the most exciting parts of this new ‘social’ revolution is how it has not only democratized external communications but it’s on the verge  of breaking down silos within organizations. It’s no longer just the marketing Joe or Jane who’s responsible for the messaging, it could very well be Jack, the product line manager who’s messaging the customer directly.

I can’t imagine a better use for social media than to open up real communication between a company and it’s customers - without restricting it to one department or group of people - now that’s real enterprise social media/web 2.0.

Despite hype, many enterprises still ambivalent about social media

While, the “Motrin Moms” debacle thrust the influential power of social media networks like blogs and Twitter into the limelight, it also highlighted the enterprise ambivalence around use of social media. Some experts placed the blame on Motrin’s poor use of social media, when in reality, Motrin didn’t leverage social media for its ad campaign or to quell the uproar over its highly controversial ad, instead it belatedly responded with a standard press release on its site.

Despite all the hype and publicity surrounding social media, there are plenty of well-known companies who  are either reluctant and/or clueless, when it comes to social media adoption. Larger companies are risk-averse and typically invest in communication/marketing channels that are mature and thoroughly vetted. Twitter is a great example of a site that probably wouldn’t pass the enterprise litmus test, partly because of its stability issues and also because enterprises still haven’t figured out how to use it effectively.

Even for the companies, who have set up accounts on many of the leading social sites, having a presence is a good start but that by itself is not enough.  Companies like Zappos have successfully leveraged social media because they have a highly engaged and customer-oriented culture where even the CEO is accessible  via Twitter. This further affirms that social media can help but it can’t replace pro-active customer engagement and to drive that interaction, companies either need to have or cultivate a customer-centric mindset. 

Infancy of social media combined with insane proliferation of new social tools and sites doesn’t help adoption either. While prominent blogs/bloggers are doing their part to further adoption of social networks, sites like Twitter could help themselves and enterprises by providing user-friendly tools to help companies manage customer engagement on their platform. This would be a much more effective way to increase enterprise adoption rather than solely relying on third-party applications or hoping that companies will figure it out themselves.