"Will Social Media Change Our Behavior?"


That was the question asked yesterday by one of the professors who attended UGA's (that's the University of GA for anyone not living in the South or not into college football!) social media conference - Connect. In it's 3rd year, Prof Karen Russell brings together Public Relations students, academics and professionals working in social media. 

Connect uga 9_09

I had the privilege of sharing a panel with the ever controversial, but always smart, Jeremy Pepper on  Integrating Social Media in Business and Industry.

It's always fun and invigorating to be part of a student event. Highlights of the speaker's ideas/presentations were captured on a retro social media platform .. the UGAConnect 2009 blog. Here's mine

It's an innovative program and I would love to see the Connect model adopted with a focus on social media marketing. Tossing a pink boa to Karen, Diane Murphy and of course the amazing students.

But I digress. As always happens at any type of conference some of the best discussions occur outside of the sessions. The question, "Will social media change our behavior?" was directed not at consumers but the professionals behind the brand. 

One of my first jobs out of college was as a customer service rep for a major health insurance company. Sometimes I felt it was "me and the customer" against the company. I can't but wonder ..

  • Will PR and marketing professionals, who traditionally don't daily interact with customers, approach their day-to-day jobs any differently if their job descriptions include active participation in social media conversations?
  • Does knowing personal details about customers and stakeholders build added empathy to cheer louder - work harder - for the customer?
  • Does having access to a daily stream of consumer feedback from high praise to disappointments in product and service influence how media releases or ads are written?
  • If some people in non traditional, call them indirect customer engagement jobs like PR, HR, Marketing, IT, begin to build relationships with customers while others in their department do not, not does this produce conflict about the execution of tactics?
  • How will job descriptions and subsequent annual reviews and raise incentives change for "indirect customer engagement jobs that include social media participation? Will these jobs be at a higher grade level since additional skills, experience and training will be needed?
  • As more of our customers and clients join social networks and discover that there is frequently a disconnect between channel service (Twitter responses occur in seconds while call center resolutions may take days) and begin to depend on social channels to "talk to the company" will there be an internal conflict for resources?

This is part of a concept I've been talking about for a long time but finally beginning to explore in more depth -  The Social Enterprise. It's an extension of the corner grocery story relationship that is the heart of what I believe makes social media of value to any business. Would love to hear your thoughts : Will Social Media Change Our Behavior?