More to come, as this is just Day One. I was particularly impressed and excited by Sara Robb O’Hagan’s call for turning insights into action and understanding behavioral change. Lo and behold, she even put in a push for mindfulness. Great stuff from the Equinox. Met some great characters today in the startup booths with passion and innovation burning strong. I just wish they would take Sonny Vu’s advice and design for more the market beyond men in tech. There is some pretty ugly gear out there. Ah, well, there is room for improvement, innovation and creativity. So that is exciting.
The paradigm has shifted, and the learning curve is steep. Some will rise and some will fall. Social media marketing is only a small piece of the picture. Understanding that social is people, and people are not just our customers is a start to the journey.
Organizations are made up of people in many different roles. Their jobs require people both internally in the organization and externally in partners, product & service providers, new hires, investors, and so on. Relationships are what count whether business to business or business to consumer, it comes down to people.
Each person has a story that contains knowledge, experience, passions, interests, skills, and people. Each individual is a unique part of the whole organizations and defines its collective story. It is this story we share and grow in social technologies. Leadership must take active part in the story for an organization to succeed in this new paradigm.
Social Optimization, the building and maintaining of MUTUALLY beneficial and effective relationships, is a key behavioral shift when mastering the Art of Social Strategy. This does not come simply from balancing the gives and takes by counting interactions. The behavior change must be a result of recognizing the value of all relationships as part of the whole. It comes from understanding who we are (as individuals and organizations), what we have to offer and what/who we need and how to reach it/them.
Social technologies are tools that help us optimize this change in behavior when we learn how to best apply them. They simplify our processes for supporting our networks and communities, receiving that support in return. Sharing knowledge globally through different sensory stimulus has never been easier. It has evolved beyond text. It is visual, interactive, musical and memorable. Language and time are no longer limitations for creating a global community of advocates.
Understanding who we are and who is part of our story is the first step of the journey. How you apply social optimization is what will determine your success over the long haul.
After a series of rather heated discussions on this topic, I felt it was time to put the words down on paper (or at least my version of paper, save a tree). It is mistake to think that social media is just about marketing and the social media optimization is only about building more traffic. Without even realizing it, many companies both big and small are using social media in all areas of their business practices with a very positive effect. Why do they not realize it? Because, social media and networks in general are being used by “users” who work for them as tools that optimize their work. Either way, it is still quality of the interactions that result in optimisation not quantity.
For example, most human resources departments commence by doing the simple Google search to learn more about a potential employee before they interview. This will lead them to other social media interactions like a blog or profile listing on LinkedIn and Facebook and on other sites. This practice has become standard in the first stage of reinforcing that which stands on their application, or weeding out individuals who will not fit with the company culture.
Imagine this chain for recruitment using twitter as a starting point: twitter search for subject matter expert on “socialmedia” –> See several posts by same person and follow link to their profile –> On their profile more interesting entries so check out the website listed in profile –> Leads to blog with more interesting/relevant content –> Look at the profile on the blog for full name –> Check LinkedIn for profile –> See some of their presentation posted on SlideShare –> just the kind of candidate we are looking for –> Send them and inMail requesting a Skype talk –> Speak to get the real connection via voice and see if they are available (or if not have a referral to someone else) –> Follow them on twitter to see if they react publicly to the call. This of course could go many ways. But each one of these steps to could apply to any field and costs nothing other than the person’s time to follow through completely.
Product / Service development is another area in which the implementation of social media strategy can shorten the innovation cycle with direct consumer feedback. Whether B2B or B2C the end consumer is the one who needs to be satisfied. So, why not engage them in the process. Customer surveys have been done online for years. Now they can be integrated into conversations that are a true dialog. We can speed up development cycles by understanding our consumers’ needs based on conversations rather than assumptions.
Try this example for using social media for product development à a company is looking to create new flavors –> Create a Facebook Fan page for product –> Hold a contest for most popular innovative flavor using their product as a base –> Promote it on Facebook, homepage, twitter, blog and anywhere else they know their consumers are with a tag –> Let contestants submit YouTube videos, audio, images or text narrating their recipe and post to Fan page –> Create link to daily best of on twitter –> Allow other users to rate flavors based on new recipes using base product –> Invite best flavors to share and compete via video conference –> Invite active fans to join the video conference by voting –> The Fans choose the flavor (the engineers develop it to scale, and then offer the fans a chance to test it) –> See if they got it right, thank those active fans who took time to help by giving them free product and ask for feedback (repeat until get it right) –> These fans in turn will spread the word through their channels (twitter, Facebook, etc.) –> Let those great videos and other content become part of a virtual recipe station and fun viral compilation video build your brand afterwards. –> Keep ear to the ground on reactions via all social media channels –> Reward their efforts, creator of winning recipe gets free product. The sites I am using for examples here are simply that, examples. (Oh yes, and by the way you will build your brand in the process as a by-product)
These are just two examples of business areas. Imagine the impact if they coordinated these efforts and incorporated them into their enterprise or business strategy. Now, THAT is social media optimization. I am not recommending that your R&D or your HR departments become social media experts. What I am recommending is that they learn to listen and watch. Social media in its basic forms are simple to use. More and more tools are being created to optimize how we interact with social media so that it becomes less of distraction and more effective. It is these tools that should be focused on. Planning is critical. How can you best apply a social media strategy to increase effectiveness in your organization? That is social media optimization.
Understanding the value mix of online media participation and face to face interaction is key to the success of the modern business and individual. There is a delicate balance needed between on-line efficiency and off-line effectiveness. New tools are created to make our work easier and to connect us to our stakeholders and communities (those-whom or that-which we need/desire in our lives). The ultimate challenge in today’s connected workplace and lifestyles is to find the perfect balance or mix. When not used effectively they achieve just the opposite of their intended purpose and priorities get re-arranged. Interacting with people whether face to face or online and sharing is how we learn and improve as individuals as well as organisations. In networks and face to face interactions we build the foundation for deeper connections and context for further interactions both online and off. In social media, we reinforce these relationships and are referred to others through authentic connections that further add value.
Three basic principles or “R”s should lead us to how and where we interact (REAL, RELEVANT and RESPECT). It is much harder to be someone you are not and it will catch up to you. Being authentic will earn trust, whereas getting caught being fake will ruin your reputation and those around you. Whether you are using social media to connect to your old friends, your remote colleagues, your employees or your clients or to meet or gain new ones, the quality of your interactions and their being in context to your audience and the arena are what count and resonate. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. In other words, constructive criticism is far more effective and it won’t come back to bite you later. These basic principles are core to face to face networking as well, and what creates the foundation for valued relationships.
Strategy needs to be considered on all levels. Participating in social media or face to face networks should not be limited to marketing. If used properly they impact product/service development, employee engagement and turnover, brand building, customer satisfaction and relations, business development and individual success. Ultimately there is a person with thoughts feeling and views of their own called a “user”. We feel engaged and become advocates when we learn about the things that impact us, we appreciate having our voice heard (and listened to), we appreciate respect and return it. We derive value from our interactions when the three R’s are observed. That value creates incentive for further interaction and referral.
Social media optimisation and social optimisation should go hand in hand when building lasting and strong relationships with our friends, our employees, our consumers, our investors and extended community of stakeholders in our lives and our businesses.