News and views on what matters to me: mindfulness, leadership, public relations, marketing, social media, pop culture and every now and then I will surprise you with something else.
In a follow-up to my last entry, “Implications of Cyberslacking” I wanted to recognize those that are doing it “right” when it comes to social media practices. It would be great if the term cyberproductivity referred to those companies and individuals that embraced social media practices and were doing some good with it. After taking a look at a social media study coming from the Arthur W. Page Society’s Future Leader Program (2 year professional development exercise with twenty “next generation communication officers) and taking a look at social media policies by the US Navy, US Air Force and IBM, I will share some key lessons they all shared in common.
Learn the Tools: It is assumed that everyone these days at the very least knows what social media platforms exist. This is a mistake, as we take for granted that only a small percent of the population is using the tools and doing so properly. Companies that are doing well with their social media practice take the time to educate their employees; this goes for individuals as well, taking the time to learn what each tool does and how to use it properly is the key to success. The US Navy and US Air Force have done a fantastic job of creating manuals that are available to the public and that not only advocate the use of social media amongst their members but also take the time to explain the different platform and their uses. Many lessons can be taken away on how to create a document to empower and educate a group. New Media & the Air Force http://www.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-090406-036.pdf US Navy Memo on Utilizing New Web Tools. http://www.doncio.navy.mil/PolicyView.aspx?ID=789
Focus: Sometimes, more is less. With so many different social media platforms out there, it is important to identify platforms that suite your business or personal needs and hone in and master them. Taking too much too soon may make the experience overwhelming and turn individuals away from social media. Also, the beauty of the different platforms is that they may be better for certain types of individuals or industries.
Be Relevant: In a cluttered market place it is crucial to not get caught up with the hype and instead to remain authentic to the brand in question, honest and transparent. It is only then that audiences will want to become engaged and take part of the conversation. It is often better to listen first and take part once there has been a firm understanding of the online conversations taking place.
Engage Others Early: This is very important for companies. If the goal of social media is to get brand evangelists and use the tools to share company values, news, and connect with others, it is important to foster an environment that encourages taking the next steps and learning about the platforms. Often there are a few social media users that are trying to get everyone else on board-it is important to grasp an understanding at the very least amongst the different disciplines and to encourage everyone in the company to at least develop an understanding.
Add Value: IBM’s social media policy makes this one of its items, and it is an important one. Social Media is exciting and in some instances can get addictive, but providing value to audiences and in turn looking to get value for your own brand needs to be kept in mind at all times. The tools that are out there can bring brands an incredible amount of recognition, awareness and meet other goals as long as adding value is on top of the minds of those using the tools.
When comparing the US Navy, US Air Force and IBM, it is interesting that they all share the following values and policies when it comes to social media: Responsible engagement, protecting confidential, proprietary or secure information, transparency and respect towards their respective audiences.
Looking at policies created by the US Navy and US Air Force that I shared links to earlier in this post gives real hope that there are fundamentals in social media policies and manuals can be created prevent wrongful use. Fear is very common when it comes to embarking on social media practices because companies and individuals feel as if they are losing control. Looking at IBM’s policy, http://www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.html it is very obvious that it is not fear that guides it, instead a careful look that does take into account what can go wrong, but continues to encourage employees to take action.
Social Media is changing communications and marketing fields as it is becoming a link between the two and making them truly overlap. An example of this is US Army’s use of social media towards recruiting and marketing. The US Army first started using social media as a public affairs tool to educate and inform the public about the work that US Army soldiers are doing. Now, the US Army has plans to use social media to help potential recruits understand the Army experience. Social Media is allowing the Army to candidly talk about its offering in an environment where their potential recruits feel comfortable. Suzanne Nagel, Army Accessions Command’s Media Chief says it best, “Our goal is to change perceptions and convince people who maybe wouldn’t otherwise think about the Army in a positive way.”
This overlap is going to have huge impact in the future of marketing communications and it will require companies to integrate not only their marketing practices but also think about how the communication piece fits in and what its implications are. The days of communication being separate from marketing are long over!