A LinkedIn discussion in the “B2B Social Media Group,” “Who is afraid of the big bad Social Media?” is the motivation for this blog post and my Halloween metaphor.
“Trick or treat!” Some turn their porch lights off and don’t engage with neighbors’ children. They are usually antisocial during the rest of the year. Others go all out and use dry ice to create fog and set up mock graves with sound and light shows complete with family members and friends dressed up as ghouls. The majority turn on porch lights and enjoy the parade of cute kids while handing out goodies.
Ignore or embrace it, Halloween isn’t going away, neither is social media.
Some firms are confused about how to approach social media. Should they go all out, hire some social media “experts” and put on a huge production like the Halloween dry ice fog people? Or should they hunker down with their lights off and hope this all passes by with the next day, and avoid their neighbors for the foreseeable future? If your success depends upon engaging with many B2B prospects or customers, then it would be advisable to use social media.
Can your business survive without social media…?
Can your business survive without social media in the B2B world? If you have a small business that caters to one large corporation, then you will probably survive, depending upon the management of the larger business and other industry participants. However, if you, like most of us, exist by selling to a number of companies, then the outcome is less certain, as time goes by.
…approach social media in exactly the same way you approach any other aspect of business.
What are you doing now to market your product? Do you attend trade shows, advertise, and engage in other brand-promoting activities? If you do, then you’ll want to integrate social media in that effort. Approach social media in exactly the same way you approach any other aspect of your business. You analyze where it fits into your organization and plan implementation using a strategy that works for your culture and business personality. Before you hire another full-time employee, assign someone on your staff to set up a executive briefing. At The Blade, we used The University of Toledo, Business College Executive Center for Global Competitiveness (ECGC).
An executive level briefing or Q&A presented by a business college is the best way to obtain information that your leadership can rely on. Or, perhaps, like the neighbor with porch lights off, you may be blocking social media at your organization’s perimeter.
Fallacy: Social media is blocked at our company.
There are some macro issues that flow across your entire organization. Here’s the boogeyman for many Command and Control organizations: Employees using social media on the job… – Your employees in finance, transportation, in your plant break rooms and everywhere else are using social media. How? Well, you know those smart phones that you see your employees carrying around? Among other things they are using them for is posting updates on social media. Even though your company Internet firewall blocks social media, it can’t block your employees’ cellular data connection capability in many – if not all – areas of your building(s). Of course there are some heavy-handed actions that you could take. One would be to to purchase a cellular frequency jammer. However, the jammers don’t discriminate. They will cause every phone in their reach to fail. Some governments have attempted to block social media. To date, they have had very little success. And I’m not just talking about South Asia or the Middle East.
Bloomberg interview regarding the U.K. government considering blocking social media
The best course of action is to just accept the inevitable. More and more of your employees will be posting updates on different social media.
If your employees don’t know how you would like them to use social media, then outcomes are less likely to be those that you would like. So, AFTER you have developed your social media integration strategy for marketing, sales, customer service, finance, production, logistics etc., then you can address what’s going on now in your offices, plants, warehouses, vehicles, etc. by creating policy.
And that’s the key. Social media must be integrated into your current strategy in marketing, public affairs, customer service, not a stand-alone. Try not to repeat the “Yeah, we have a Web site, too.” process that failed in the 1990s. Let’s face it, many, if not most firms did just that. They set up a Web site that had little of real value to visitors, other than the same brochure marketing images and messages that they had received in the mail, or left behind by sales professionals. Of course there were exceptions, but they were few and far between.
Let’s try to make social media a useful tool internally and externally. The best way to get that started is via your local colleges and universities. In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree?
Trick or Treat!