Around a year and a half ago, I wrote an article for the International Society of Automation (ISA) Intech magazine, Surface key to social network success. The premise of the article is that expectations are changing and this change is caused by the way people solve problems in their everyday lives with search and through their social networks.
As businesses, we have to adapt to these changing expectations by getting more of our talented people to the surface of our organizations to listen, interact, and connect them with the people in our organizations who can solve their problems.
We all know how many times we can rapidly find answers by typing a few select keywords and key phrases in the search engine bar of our web browsers. How fast can answers answers about your company’s products and services? If there is a hierarchical process in place, it may not be fast enough to meet the expectations of the person looking for an answer.
How can some of the social communication channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter help? It starts with listening. When answers are not quickly found through standard searches, people more and more are turning to their social networks. They may be asking about your company and brands in these places. Is anyone listening? Tools exist from simple Google email alerts and RSS search subscriptions to sophisticated listening services which provide comprehensive real-time dashboards and reports of what is being said about your company and your brands.
Engaging with people talking about your company and brands is a great way to solve negative things being said and to reinforce positive things being said. In both cases, you can move the needle in a positive direction for customer loyalty and the most powerful form on marketing–word of mouth.
As I highlighted in the article, all this does not come for free. It takes people in your organization comfortable with these social channels and being out at the surface of your organization. They also need to understand the do’s and don’ts and legal pitfalls in participating on behalf of your company. Having a strong social policy such as IBM’s social computing guidelines is a good place to start.
Having talented people out at the surface of your organization can not only help meet the increasing expectations of your customers and prospective customers, it can help build thought leadership and drive new business opportunities. From personal experience, it’s definitely worth your time to make the move to the surface.