Social Media – the power of communications using internal & external talent
Social business is born and its all change for Human Resources, marketing, communication, engagement,talent management…
At one level or another we have all been impacted by some form of social media, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Forums, Blogs, Yammer, Sametime, MSN etc. Over the last few months we have seen the Arab Spring, and many other changes to the society in which we live. On a day to day basis it is not obvious that things are changing… but stop and think for a moment. Two years ago we would not have seen the little “f” or “t” icon that is now on almost every TV show, billboard and magazine advert. Many of us are addicted** to our smart phones, updating our networks and reading the “recommendations” and testimonials people we are connected to are constantly giving.
How have things changed?
Go back 5+ years and people were being told to put testimonials like the one below on our websites and marketing materials:
But now a testimonial is different and looks more like:
Not only is it instant, it’s public. This feedback can be both positive and negative. Equally if people think you are wrong, they will tell you:
This has the advantage in being “real time” and “honest” as we can easily trace the person that provided the feedback. We can also use potentially negative feedback to show we are listening and have reacted. Remember M&S built a reputation of excelence customer care by putting the returns desk at the front of their stores, (its now at the back!).
A case in point
Early on at the recent CIPD annual conference in Manchester UK this week, I was aware that unlike last year where there were between four and five attendees tweeting on a regular basis, this year there were more than thirty eight conference delegates doing so on a regular basis. A little homework shows some startling facts.
Have a look at the top 30 contributors to this particular twitter stream (#cipd11):
Impressions Contributed by 523 Twitterers
No. of impressions
** source tweetreach.com for the tag #cipd11 on 11/11/11
Between the 500+ people that got involved this resulted in an Exposure of 5,193,637 Impressions. Not bad for a conference that had an attendance of around 1300!
From the graphs we can see that over 160,000 people say one tweet or message about the event, with more than 80,000 seeing seven or more messages. We can also see that while there were over 700 messages sent out from attendees, over 500 of those were re-sent by readers – recommendations if you like.
This type of circulation is significant, and much more than would be expected through conventional Business-to-Business (B2B) print channels. This particular event was “experienced” by over 300,000 unique individuals. That is a marketing reach not to be ignored.
If you as a business are not into social media, then I hope the evidence above shows that it’s either your messages or your competitors’ messages that will get to customers. Who’s material do you want them reading about?
It also shows that as well as growing your network, a strategic alliance with other people that have networks that cross over your market space can be highly valuable.
Internal communications & engagement too
This is not just about marketing, or customer engagement. Internally if social media communication tools were to be used, just imagine the impact that could be achieved amongst your people. Employee engagement can be harnessed to share information and learning across organizations with complex structures and multiple sites/ countries/ time zones.
If the current generation of professionals do not learn how to use these tools quickly there is one thing for sure… the undergrads of today are ready, competent and looking for the opportunity. Please do not get me wrong, I’m not saying go and hire these people. Quite the opposite, learn to use the skills and techniques before the current batch of undergrads takes your job. And to prove the point, if you look at the top 10 of the list above, there was only one person under the age of 30 contributing to one of the corporate accounts, and her personal profile while on the list was down in the late 20s! This is a skills and attitude thing – not an age thing.
Trust your staff
Throughout this conference (CIPD11) and many other conferences before it, there has been an increasing trend to block social media. Many claim it is a main cause of poor productivity, and “brand risk”. Well they said the same about the telephone in the 1980s, they said email would be a distraction (sending personal messages and potentially subversive) in the “naughties”. Both of which have proven in the main to be untrue. Social media if not already mainstream business tool in your organization soon will be. The future is employee and customer engagement – social media is one central and core tool set and strategy.
Remember that some of the key talent that can help you deliver your business goals may well sit outside the organization, they may be a supplier, a customer, a service user… its not JUST about employees.
Social media addiction**
I do believe that for the more habitual posters in the web 2.0 space, there is a form of addiction. A compulsion if you like. The reality is like most addictions you cannot stop it by saying “stop”. So if you say do not Facebook, they will but much more carefully. This could be a lost opportunity. Why not harness your people’s love for social media and their passion for your business?
Social media is changing, in the context these tools are starting a revolution in the way we communicate and collaborate. They are becoming tools of the “social business”.
Footnote – The reach of RapidBI would have been higher, as an experiment I sent NO tweets using the tag for more than half of day 2! I will start my medication soon..