Feb 09, 2011

Social Media: Driving Business Transformation

When it comes to transforming your business with social media, Jay Baer, author of the Convince & Convert blog, said companies must do more than be on Facebook.

“Having a Facebook page isn’t transforming your business,” Baer said. “That’s Yellow Pages 2.0. And having a lot of Facebook fans has zero ties to business success. It requires exactly one click of one finger.”  Amber Naslund, vice president of social media strategies with Radian 6 and co-author with Baer on the book, The Now Revolution: Transforming Your Business with Speed, Smarts & Social Media, agreed.

But you also can’t “wing” your social media strategy either, they said. There must be a policy in place.  During their keynote address this morning at the Online Marketing Summit, Baer and Naslund pointed to stories of business transformation influenced in part the changes in customer behavior and expectations social media has wrought.   Among them:  Fairfax, Va.-based ThinkGeek.

Recently, someone posted a question in binary code on ThinkGeek’s Facebook wall. Within seven minutes, a company rep responded in like type.  Baer said it’s that kind of interaction and cultural alignment that makes for ThinkGeek’s success.

They are geeks, and they hire for geekiness,” he said. “Their first interview question literally is: Star Wars or Star Trek? They have Dungeons and Dragons night. ThinkGeek hires based on cultural fit, and that voice of culture is baked into every employee.”

When it comes to social media, Naslund said it’s not enough for companies to respond only to positive social media conversations.

“One of the things we fear is that we’re going to get into the social media conversation and we’re going get a negative complaint,” she said. “All information is positive. We as businesses have the ability to sniff out negative issues as they’re happening.”

The process to address social media conversations must be tactical, they said. Every company must designate teams: coaches, booths, and players.  Coaches decide on the overarching social media strategy. They direct and call the plays.
Booths are the folks behind the scenes. These are people in HR, for example, who are impacted by social media so they can make decisions within their part of the business.  Players are the front lines people. These include a company’s public relations specialists and customer service reps.

In most companies, social media is literally someone’s job, Baer said. Soon, it’ll be designated a skill, and a company will not only handle problems through social media, but capitalize on its opportunities.  Employees must be empowered to join the conversation, he told the group.   Enterprise-wide empowerment requires a significant cultural shift.

Finally, listening to social media conversations must never end, the duo said.
“Social media doesn’t close at 5,” Baer said.

Christine Cube manages media relations for PR Newswire and tweets through @PRNewswire and @PRNAlert.

The Now Revolution has influenced other posts on Beyond PR.  See more references on these posts:

The Enterprise and Social Media Ownership

People, Content & Measurement

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