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Posts Tagged ‘consumers

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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Killing creativity: Is everyone thinking the same thing?

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What kills creativity?

Group think.

Patton said:

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”

The leaden wings of group think

What is it about human nature that makes us want to be the same?

The first thing we do when a company, product, or idea becomes popular is jump on the bandwagon. Everyone has to have the same product. Some will stand in line. This is, of course, very profitable for any company selling that same product or idea.

Many companies thrive by creating this “need” we didn’t know we “needed”. But often the “need” we didn’t know we “needed” was actually an extension of something we do need everyday. For example, tools for communication.

How often have we reinvented pen and paper? The tools change, but the end result is the ability to create, to communicate.

Success, right? Success can be when the problem starts.

Think about the future!

While we can learn a lot from past successes, we can learn from manias also. Facebook’s IPO is a case in point. (It was valued at 100 times earnings!) It’s easier, in retrospect, to wonder how an IPO is worth 100 hundred times current earnings. It’s easier to look at a stock chart and say, yeah, it was overvalued after a big decline.

No wonder IPOs so seldom live up to the hype.

It’s easier to look at a product everybody had, and announce that the market had been saturated, after saturation.

It’s hard to do the same thing early. You have to go against opinion. You might be ridiculed. You might be ostracized.

Some of these voices demanding you conform will be shrill.

They might even tell you that if you stop thinking, you’ll start thinking.

But it’s diversity in thinking that truly creates.

And relationships don’t need to be adversarial. They can be focused on growth. For all parties. But that doesn’t mean you have to agree.

We fear creativity and often reject it.

But nobody will admit to it.

It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon of a current winner.  It’s much harder to pick the next winner.

It’s easy to pick a winner due to sheer momentum. Momentum will carry you forward for awhile. This is true whether you’re talking about a stock, a company or a product.

But in assessing now and moving into tomorrow, consider:

  • The rapidity of change in an environment or sector
  • The difficulty of maintaining leadership if you are one of the leaders
  • Increasing competition
  • Increasing negative feedback from consumers or users

The listening tree

Creative thinking demands the discussion of threats as much as it does strengths or opportunities. Rather than being ridiculed, people presenting reasons they think a company, product or idea won’t maintain its momentum are often the best opportunity to understand how to improve a product, service or idea.

And then, of course, there’s listening to your customers. Strategic listening is an art in itself.

Rather than plucking the last fruit from the tree, we need to grow new fruit.

We need seeds — and to plant new trees.

Related:

Collectivism and size drive unethical behaviour: The diffusion problem

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