Organizations around the world continue to hear why it’s so important to “be social”. Many companies pat themselves on the back when their Facebook and Twitter account go live…dust their hands because they’re done right? Woah! Hold on, there’s a big difference between social media and a social company. A social company’s culture isn’t based on hierarchy, titles and rigid processes. Rather, it’s more fluid than that, and is willing to adapt to whatever today’s rapidly changing marketplace can throw at it. Just think, by the time you’re done reading this article, there could be new technologies released that will change our day-to-day routines (HINT: BBM Channels).
Is yours a social company? If not, it may find itself appearing on 24/7 Wall St.’s list of brands that will disappear. The below are some strategies that may prevent that from happening:
1. Participation Beyond Your Job Title: In many companies, job descriptions are carved in stone. Developers develop. Marketers market. Customer care agents are at the “front line” (interesting war analogy that term has), and they take the heat from frustrated customers. In “Unsocial” companies, if a customer has a great idea of how to optimize an app, they send an email to the customer care department. Social companies have left that rigid, and outdated, model behind. For an example, check out Intuit, where any employee is considered customer-facing, and can solve a customer problem. It’s no wonder they’re growing as fast as they are.
2. Enlist and Engage Your Community: A company’s customers are more than “those people who buy our stuff”. Companies can leverage the wisdom of their loyal customers to both help shape their products, and services, as well as help promote them. Rather than leaving all of the PR, marketing, and product development to the “experts” who are on the payroll, why not involve the real experts who live and breathe the products every day? Social companies understand that. The result is that they’re uniquely suited to be ahead of the curve in product development and positioning. For an example, check out Mountain Dew Canada’s latest social media campaign that is all about engagement.
3. Collaborate and Co-create: Social companies have developed a process to not only listen to their customers via social media, but to benefit from their input in the form of new features to products and services. This involves collaboration between employees (and not customer care agents), customers, and high leverage members of your community. Whether it’s a new product, service, idea or program, bringing everyone together – inside of the company and outside – can not only deliver a remarkably innovative product, it ensures your company is agile, informed and relevant. Lego has been at this for a while (click here for a great overview), and their new products have completely revolutionized the brand.
4. Focus on Culture and People: It’s the oldest truism in business. First, hire great people. It’s interesting how, as companies become increasingly reliant on technology, this adage has never been more relevant. Awesome ideas, products, growth, and customer engagement begins with a great culture, and that’s a product of the people within the company. Companies are, after all, groups of people. It’s easy to forget that.
5. Jack Be Nimble: Yeah, okay, it’s a nursery rhyme. But unless you want to be burned by that candle stick, your company needs to be able to be like Jack. Five year plans are fine as long as flexibility, and “nimbleness,” are key components. Innovation, creativity and agility are the new pillars of a successful and social company.
Social design within a company is no longer an option. Creating a social culture within an organization isn’t easy. A Facebook page may help your brand appear social but building long term engagement, and long term survival, requires more.
Companies that invest the time and resources to implement what it takes to become “social” will thrive in this increasingly social environment. Companies that don’t, won’t. Simple as that. Which company will yours be?
And of course I’d love your thoughts. Is your company social? What steps, even small steps, has your company taken to involve its community in product / service development?