Time for a business strategy that integrates social media – WOMMA Summit day 3

Home Time for a business strategy that integrates social media – WOMMA Summit day 3

“Reverse mentoring” as a starting point

The difficulty in many organisations is the mental gap that occurs between the older and the younger generation. More and more digital natives are entering companies. They immediately see the benefits of social media, while running into opposition from the more senior managers. How to deal with this was the theme of the opening debate. The debate was extremely interesting and contained a number of hot shots from the social media world, including Jeremiah Owyang, social media guru; Rick Murray, President of Edelman and Erica Swallow from Mashable. They launched the concept of “Reverse Mentoring”. Set up a programme in which senior managers and a company’s digital natives get together to learn from each other. In other words, mentorship is not something that flows only from senior to junior, but vice versa as well. I strongly believe in this. Edelman has also developed a very good training programme to involve the entire company in a new way of thinking in which word-of-mouth and digitisation take centre stage. All employees are given a “belt”, ranging from white to black. Meanwhile, they already have 1,900 black belts, all people who are well trained in the art of conversation thinking.

Where to send your customer: Facebook or your website

If we then talk about connecting with customers, the question arises of where to send your customers. What should advertisers use in their TV commercials: a link to the website or a link to their Facebook page? This is a difficult question. The panel was divided in two. One group thought this should be your own website, because it is your own media, where you will probably be able to maximise your conversion rate. The other group thought Facebook, since that is where customers meet each other. After some discussion, everyone did agree that you cannot resolve everything on the known social sites. You cannot solve every customer service problem with a tweet. Sometimes you will need to make a phone call, sometimes send an email, depending on the situation. I believe that over the next two years we will see an increasing amount of integration between Facebook and websites, and perhaps other channels as well. It think that it is very important not to underestimate your own media. If you have a base somewhere from which you can share your content and connect with customers, this will certainly benefit your conversion rate. We must also ensure that we are not developing silos in our marketing thinking. The story and the content of your brand should be the same everywhere and preferably linked to each other. Your Facebook page and your website should complement each other, and must both have their own conversion goals.

Social media expose the silos of your organisation

This brings us quickly to the topic of organisational structure. During his presentation, Chris Boudreaux (Converseon) tells us about his experiences in integrating social media into the corporate strategy of his clients. His feeling concurs with what I myself experience with our customers: a company is organised into silos that unfortunately do not work together transparently enough. Marketing and customer service are two different worlds that, with the advent of social media, are now obliged to cooperate. Your customers do not care about your organisational structure and expect full cooperation within a company. Unfortunately the reality is often different, causing frustration both internally and externally. Currently, 70% of a company’s social media budget is in the hands of marketing. It is also logical that marketing is the first to use social media because it is the least complex branch within a company to experiment with. Once you start involving customers in product management, you have already entered into a more complex world.

Starting point for integrating social media into your business: corporate DNA and objectives

Before you start talking about social media, consider the DNA of your business. Are you a prize player, or rather a customer relationship player, or perhaps a product champion. Depending on your choice, your strategy will be different. It is also important to carefully define your business objectives. The combination of these things is the basis for your strategy and the role that social media can play in it.

Once you progress in your implementation project, you will be needing a “centre of excellence”, according to the man from Converseon. This centre brings together all the experts inside and outside your organisation to increase the knowledge and value of social media. Personally, I see this as the role of the Conversation Manager. Where he or she integrates word-of-mouth cross-departmentally in everything the company does. This is not only about being a great conversation manager, but also about someone who is good at facilitating people. The need for a coordinating person / department came up regularly here.

Finally, the choice is yours: do you want to become a reactive helpdesk, or create a proactive strategy

The final speech came from Jeremiah Owyang. He presented the conclusion of his last report: the career path of the social media strategist. There are two possibilities: either you reactively start giving everyone expert answers to their questions, or you proactively delineate a path. Of course, everyone’s preferred route is the latter. In order to succeed here, your structure will be very important. If you work with a centralised model where all questions are routed to a single person, via word-of-mouth and social media, you cannot help but lapse into a reactive model. The correct way is to, as a conversation manager, place yourself in a central point between the services, and to facilitate them to succeed in your goals. In an ideal world, your business will turn into a company like Zappos, where every employee knows exactly what they should and shouldn’t be doing. At that moment, the conversation manager is in fact no longer needed. In the case of Zappos, I think that their CEO, Toni, is the Conversation Manager. And at the end of the story everything still comes down to corporate culture, which determines everything. How things change is quite simple, according to Jeremiah Owyang. The secret formula is as follows: first, you work out a good policy (I prefer the term “conversation guide”), then you adjust the processes (indicate clearly who is responsible for what) and then you provide non-stop training for all your people. These three steps will change the corporate culture of your organisation. In other words, it was another interesting day in which a number of hot topics around social media were tackled. The discussions on organisational structure and culture fascinate me greatly. For businesses, this is really not straightforward. The structures which have served us successfully for a 100 years, are now being called into question by all of the experts. However, it is also only natural that not everyone is a fan, which was also one of today’s conclusions.

One last tip from Jeremiah to implement change. People who have already been evangelising about social media within their companies should immediately stop doing so. Change your propaganda work into project management. Define projects and manage these like any other project in an organisation, with budgets, timings, objectives, etc. That way you will gain credibility quicker. A good tip to end on, wouldn’t you say?