Social Media: A Change Agent

11/23/2011

Hugh gaping void change new ideasA few weeks ago I had an ah ha moment. It was something so obvious that it was almost a dah ah moment.

Within an organization social media is a catalyst for change.

Not only does social media come tied up in ribbons of change but it is wrapped in paper comprised of shades of gray. For enterprise cultures that are built on black and white directives introducing social media can be very uncomfortable.

Social media does indeed change the game for every company. Its impact is felt within business units/departments that traditionally were customer touch points (customer service, sales) to those that rarely engaged with customers (PR, IT).

Within Robert Frost's poem Directives, written in 1947, I found truths that spoke to me about social media and change. 

There is a house that is no more a house

Upon a farm that is no more a farm

And in a town that is no more a town.

Sometimes, even before social media is integrated into the organization, the fabric of a company from profit to nonprofit to higher education, healthcare, government and all in between begins to unravel. Just a little. It might begin with just one thread. Perhaps it takes the form of a tweet that demands service when traditional channels disappointed. 

One small call out that begins the process of enterprise change and a shift in culture. Is it no wonder that management often looks at social media with suspicion and trepidation? A cry goes out .. bring in the social media experts. Take care of who you choose as a sherpa. As Robert Frost's poem goes on to say --

The road there, if you’ll let a guide direct you

Who only has at heart your getting lost,

While an outside perspective from someone who knows the social media landscape, including where the land mines are buried, can be critical to success, the end of the road must lead back to your own company, culture and employees. 

Involving your employees in authentic, public conversations is often one of the biggest hurdles facing the "social enterprise." How can you safeguard the brand, uphold the integrity of the brand's promise while allowing people to be what I call the "unmessaged" voices of the brand?

Jeff Wuorio has written an interesting post for MSN's Business On Main which provides ideas on how to begin to empower employees. My favorite suggestion is from Shilonda Downing of Virtual Work Team. Shilonda .. sound employee decisions should be rewarded not just through financial benefit, but also visibility. 

Which brings us to the last lines of Directives .. 

Here are your waters and your watering place.

Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.

Although social media serves as a change agent, which at first usually creates confusion and insecurities, social media gives back more than it takes.

Social media's secret gifts are in creating a stronger organization that is more responsive to customer concerns and more integrated employee involvement.

The results are opportunities for customer and employee loyalty .. which can lead to increased sales and decreased churn rates. Change can be a good thing!

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for MNS Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Comments

I would argue that many an organization truly needs to have that unraveling to improve who they are. Being uncomfortable will allow the organization to grow.

Posted by: Bryan Weller on Nov 26, 2011 10:39:05 AM

@bryan - excellent point! Growth is not always a comfortable journey.

Posted by: Toby @tobydiva on Nov 26, 2011 10:42:49 AM

In order to grow & evolve you always have to push outside your comfort zone and I do think social media does that for us.

Posted by: Agatha @Free Money Tips on Nov 28, 2011 7:04:14 PM

@Agatha - nice way of putting it .. it comes back to personal growth and learning.

Posted by: Toby @tobydiva on Nov 28, 2011 7:05:44 PM

It is quite a change agent when used properly. I think it's kind of amazing how much it has already done in our culture and it even made strides in our current political landscape.

Posted by: San Diego SMO on Dec 5, 2011 7:03:11 PM

While social media is no longer "new", it's still a challenge for marketers that are stuck in an old mindset. Social is a game changer because the business is no longer totally in control. Customers now play a large role in marketing efforts once a social media strategy is in place.

Posted by: Nick Stamoulis on Dec 8, 2011 10:30:38 AM

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