Remember the awkward kid in high school who didn’t quite fit in — he didn’t know how to talk to other kids and was just a little creepy? Well, that’s how many businesses come off in social media — they don’t know how to talk to their network and creep people out with their self-promotion and stalking, at least according to a new article from Harvard Business Review (HBR). Success in social media requires a social organization, not just a presence in social media, say authors, Anthony J. Bradley and Mark P. McDonald.
Instead, most organizations develop a “provide and pray” strategy for social media, according to the authors. And this strategy fails about 90% of the time.
A social organization strategically applies “mass collaboration” by combining technology, community, and purpose. It addresses significant challenges or opportunities through the creation of purpose-driven collaborative communities that are enabled by social media. … Mass collaboration gives an organization the ability to amplify its capabilities by raising the engagement, innovation, and involvement of people, internally and externally.
Becoming a social organization means you involve your community in the conversation in a meaningful way. Employees, vendors, and customers are all part of your community, so get them involved not only in spreading your message, but in collaborating on your success. How? Read on.
Social Organizations Ask for Community Help
Instead of creating products, messages, and promotions, social organizations ask their community for help. For instance, when I changed the theme on this blog, I asked readers to vote for several different options and when we created our social media book, we asked visitors to suggest titles, then vote for their favorite. When California Tortilla needed a new product, they asked their community for suggestions.
Social Organizations Involve Their Community
Ask employees to write blog posts or post comments on your Facebook wall. Employees have an interesting perspective on the business and may have unique information they can share. Instead of blocking Facebook from your campus, invite employees to share work stories with their social networks (you’ll need clear guidelines to protect intellectual property, ensure privacy, and keep updates PG). Often, users can relate to employees better than some impersonal company representative.
Social Organizations Care About their Community
Social organizations try to fix problems or answer questions when customers face a problem. Here’s a good example of what social organizations DON’T do.
I had trouble reaching Expedia to change an airline ticket — all their lines were down. I Tweeted the problem and got no response. I visited the Facebook page and discovered a number of other customers were voicing the same problem and received no response. I had to “Like” the Facebook page just to add my complaint to the list of others complaining about the same problem. No response. Finally, another CUSTOMER posted a number to the corporate offices — not a customer service number because this was still down. About 30 hours after my original post, I get this cheery response from someone at Expedia saying they’d fixed the problem. Grrrrrrr.
Ignoring customer complains allows frustration to escalate and turns a bad situation into a disaster. Social media only provides a public forum for complainers to air their grievances.
Social Organizations Incorporate Social Media into their Overall Strategy
Social organizations realize that social media strategy is a part of their overall strategy, not a stand-alone technological solution or marketing strategy.
Social media should emanate from strategic goals, build on strategic competitive advantage, and measured to ensure the organizational goals are met.
So, is your organization a social organization?