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Digital at the speed of light: Who’s afraid of social media?

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Companies fear of social media may be the greatest danger to companies’ digital strategies

Fear. Fear of a social planet.

Over the last few years, communications professionals have been challenged by the rise of social media. They also face the challenge of a consumer who has issues with trust.

Consumers feel burned by great financial forces that left many repositioning their opinions of the financial sector. The financial crisis has been a profound instructor. Companies need to communicate transparently in order to work at rebuilding trust.

If you monitor issues related to CSR/sustainability and social finance, you’ll find interesting comments left after articles. Read the wrong way, they can be paralyzing.

The virtual world can be filled with negatives about corporations, banks, fees and a litany of other topics. We live in a social world. Business is going to have to get used to consumers’ flexing their opinions socially.

Consumer empowerment is changing business. Businesses that aren’t getting it could be in for a universe of pain. An enormous part of the lifeblood of business is its ability to adapt to changing environments, opinions, priorities.

Seeing social tomorrow

Strategists work hard to understand the direction and impact of social enterprise. It’s important to see the grand scheme of things.

“Social” touches so many moving parts of the communications world.

Social enterprise isn’t one definition. Social technology isn’t Facebook. It’s not Twitter. Not alone. It’s a vast union of technologies converging, changing and moving, evolving at a pace that would freak Darwin out.

When Facebook went through a very public reputational (it is a word if you know Fombrun) convulsion, many linked social media as a whole with the avalanche of bad news that hit Facebook.

Social enterprise and social media: Evolution happening so fast, it’s hard to forecast what SocEnt/SocMed will become.

Social media: Where will ROI be tomorrow? Power in communications has always come through the integration of communications technologies.

Evolution. Don dark shades and miss the rays of light.

There is nothing to fear but change itself (for some)

Change.

Change can frighten.

With the flip of a tweet, Joe Average has become Superman. The creation of movements depends on the successful communication of ideas. The successful communication of ideas rarely results from someone sounding off, spreading impenetrable jargon out into the world.

But 140 characters, for those who learn to do it well, is a succinct statement to the universe. And the universe is listening. The universe is hungry.

The marketplace loves technologies that promise much. At the same time, the consumer craves a relationship based on trust. When 85 per cent say, worldwide, they expect companies to become actively involved in solving world issues*, brands have to notice.

How the elitist fails in communication

One of my professors used to say that if you go about sounding like an elitist, you’re not going to make a whole lot of friends. His popularity was due, largely, to his ability to communicate at a very grassroots level. A kind of Warren Buffett of the academic world.

He had a genuine love for his students. It came through loud and clear.

Joe Average doesn’t always have a well-researched opinion. But what Joe A. does have is the pulse of Main Street thumping through his veins. Digital Joe Average is the social revolution. The “x” to the exponent “many voices” that can come together and cause immense, pivotal social moments.

So, there’s Josephine and Joe A., looking for something they can believe in. A partnership.

Talk to any number of individuals involved in development in business or the not-for-profit sector, and you’ll see they welcome partnerships. Much is  accomplished through partnerships spanning inter-organizational objectives.

Partnerships connect people. Ideas are forces for change. Like anything worthwhile, opportunities come with challenges:

  • The challenge to rise up above the norm
  • The challenge to do things better
  • The challenge to break down “us” and “them” mentalities

Silos are vampires. Blackholes. They draw only for and into themselves to increase their own immortality.

Partnerships give birth to new life. They create out of a seed, an idea, a plan: potential.

When partnerships touch a great many people, then an incredible, transformative force is let loose.

Coming soon:

Why win-win thinking triumphs over fear

Update (Jan. 14, 2013):

Software Advice did an interesting experiment involving big brands recently. What the experiment shows is that even big brands can struggle with social media when it comes to employing social media best practices.

Bank of America had the best response rate. Still, the lack of response for most of these top brands is interesting:

Companies only responded to 14% of the tweets.

See the infographic here:

soc cust serv

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*Source: Havas Media

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