As a corollary to one of my previous blog posts, “Measuring Social Media”, it is important for firms to consider how they are approaching Social Media (SM) from a high-level strategic perspective. The strategy a firm employs will ultimately determine what they focus on and how the success of a particular campaign is defined. In order to fully realize the potential benefits that SM can have, firm focus should be on what SM can enable rather than the traditional marketing focuses of raising awareness and creating activity. Although activity in the context of traditional marketing is a good thing, activity alone may not drive long-term business results.
Beyond marketing and technology, SM’s potential value to a firm lies in its ability to facilitate collaboration and engagement with all stakeholders both internally and externally. True breakthroughs in this space will require more than just signing up for a Facebook or Twitter account and hoping for the best. In order to become a truly effective “social organization”, firms must strategically leverage mass collaboration to create purpose driven communities facilitated by firm presence across the various SM platforms. The horsepower available to businesses that successfully leverage the knowledge of the crowd is off the charts, however as Rodney from Think Social Media said during his presentation, this requires a fundamental shift in thinking. Management must be willing to relinquish some degree of control if they are to realize the full potential benefits of SM. After all, your brand or product is no more then the aggregation of public opinion anyways. You might as well be proactively involved in the conversation in order to address any concerns or negative sentiment.
Failing to approach SM from this perspective limits the upside of the medium. Firms should expect more than marketing from these new technologies; if they don’t, there is the danger that SM just becomes another channel for traditional autocratic marketing practices. Have a read of the following HBR article on the topic: