Social Media Three For One

02/09/2009

Life gets hectic and sometimes little niceties get put aside and then too often forgotten. VirRosestual roses and  heartfelt belated thanks to Shel Israel, C.B. Whittemore and Denise Scammon for their kindness.

On new years eve Shel Israel, Global Neighbourhoods, ended the year for me with virtual fireworks when he posted our interview in the Twitterville Notebook. Shel's notes will form the basis of his second book. The first, Naked Conversations written with Robert Scobel, has become a classic about corporate blogging. I was honored to be included in the chapter Consultants Who Get It.  Here's a question from my Twitterville Notebook interview with Shel.For more visit Twitterville Notebook.

Shel Israel:  Do you still see social media tools as part of the marketing tool arsenal or has your thinking. umm... evolved from that perspective?

Toby: My philosophy is that marketing is the doorway to the customer and, from that perspective, social media plays an important role in reaching and keeping in contact with a brand’s community. However, I’ve seen companies such as Zappos, Comcast and Dell successfully use social media to support customer service so perhaps there are more “homes” where social media can reside than in marketing. I think customer services should be a part of marketing but that’s another topic for another day. In addition, technical support reps have been blogging for many years yet another residence for social media.

One of the lessons that I’ve learned is social media initiatives have the best chance of success if there is a champion who is responsible for the implementation and also understands and believes that social media is a new way of conducting business. Social media not only influences the way we interact with customers but with people within the enterprise. Developing cross silo communication processes are critical to ensuring that information derived from on-going listening and talking with customers reaches the right internal people. Equally important is letting customers know they have been heard and responding appropriately.

What I’d like to see is social media holding a place of its own at the c-suite table. I envision a Chief Social Media Officer who helps orchestrate the initiatives; where the position is structured more as a jazz leader than a classical conductor. If you know of any organization looking for a “social media jazz leader” let me know!

C.B. Whittemore, Flooring The Consumer, included me in her thought provoking New & Old Social Media Series. I join Mack Collier, Ann Handley, Steve Woodruff, Amber Naslund, Lewis Green, Laurence (Lolly) Borel, Susan Abbott (with more to come!) talking the new conversations in blogs, Twitter, social networks and so on. Here is a a preview of one my answers; for the rest click over to Flooring The Consumer.

C.B.: What 5 suggestions do you have for companies to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users?

Toby:
1. Begin with a plan that includes goals and success measures. Don’t be afraid to include success measures that are outside the box of traditional metrics. As you build that plan consider how you can use social media to support current old media/traditional strategies. For example can you extend an article in an eZine with a blog post to carry on the conversation in greater detail?

2. Develop a budget that includes dollar and people resources. Build your programs to take into consideration human capital to support the implementation. If you don’t, not only will you be frustrated, but you will fail before you hit the publish key.

3. Understand the limitations and the benefits of the tools, or tactics, before you consider implementing. Listen and watch the rhythms of the social elements (blogs, vlogs, social networks, Twitter, etc.) you are considering before you create your social media strategy.

4. Determine if your target audience is involved in that specific platform. Then if they are listen to their conversations within each of the new media avenues that you want to explore. How are your customers using the platforms? The best Facebook strategy will fall flat if your community is not involved.

5. Bring all the people who will be involved in the project around a table for a strategic “red flag” conversation. The up front investment will save you dollars, time and tears.

Sun journal You never know where social media will take you. Denise Scammon's comment on a Diva Marketing post led to an opportunity to contribute to the SunJournal's special section Women's Journal. My article - Expand your business network through social media was written to help people new to social media understand how simple it is to incorporate blogs, social networking, Twitter, etc. into a busy schedule.

A few tips to help you jump-start building your digital relationship network:

1. Explore a few social networks. When you build your profile, to prevent spam, consider using a different e-mail address from your business or personal e-mail. The following Big Three networks have become the core platforms for many business professionals.

LinkedIn is focused on business networking, making it an ideal first step into social media.

Twitter allows only 140 characters per message or "tweet." Organizations are using Twitter for customer service support, public relations conferences and rapid response answers to questions.

Facebook offers the option to create personal pages and group pages for brand "fans."

2. Don't feel obligated to follow/friend everyone who knocks on your virtual door. Sometimes less is more. Take time to read profiles to help you determine who you want to be a part of your community.

3. Participate in discussions in the same way as you would in the off-line world. Be yourself. Let your personality come through in your words, on videos or in a podcast interview.

4. Adding value to the conversation will reward you faster and better than a continuous stream of promotion about your products or company.

The results: you'll develop a global network that you can tap into for resources, information, support, advice in which you can control where and when you meet-up. Don't be surprised if the connections you make turn into real friendships that lead to off-line meetings!

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Comments

Toby, you are amazing and most welcome! In true Toby-fashion, you have packed this post with priceless wisdom. Thank you.

Posted by: C.B. Whittemore on Feb 9, 2009 8:47:21 AM

Toby, This post in and of itself shows the power of social media. The more connections made thru Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, the more opportunities one has to help others and vice versa. Thanks for the virtual roses.

Posted by: Denise Scammon on Feb 9, 2009 9:54:15 AM

@C.B. and @Denise - thanks for your kind words .. and most of all thanks for reinforcing thru your comments the wonder of social media network!

Posted by: Toby on Feb 9, 2009 11:03:43 AM

As always, a great post, Toby. A friend of mine pointed out that you can't understand social media until you've tried social media. Your comments on getting started with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. are a perfect starting point for that. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Jamie Turner on Feb 11, 2009 5:07:38 PM

Even if social media is a fad it is where the masses are hanging out online so you need to be there as a company even if it is short term or not.

Posted by: Nick Stamoulis on Feb 13, 2009 2:06:59 PM

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