Social Media in Organizations

Is your Organization Social Media Savvy?

social_media_strategy111Leader-organizations have long since put their toboggan on top of the social media avalanche and are actively engaging their communities through these various social media platforms.

They see these platforms as excellent tools not only in direct marketing but in finding out what people go for and what they recommend to their friends and online fans.

Others are still debating whether they will be on Facebook and Twitter. Others are even suspicious of their employees using company time to check their Facebook and Twitter updates. These simply show the difference in culture in three different organizations. Well…lead, follow, or get out of the way! If the heart of your business is community based or multiple client centered, you better make a decision NOW!

The Reach of Mobile:
The worldwide community is engaged.

Some organizations always seem to be just ahead of the wave. They see the potential of new options quickly and get their brand out front. A little caution makes sense, but once a change has traction, waiting ensures losing.

These early adopters are already reaping the benefits of their presence in social media by getting immediate feedback on their products and services, testing out the market for new products they may introduce or asking the worldwide community how to improve product or service design.

Governments are there, too, creating a presence for dialogue and interaction and seeing the enormous political benefit of engagement on a continuing basis with the electorate. Except maybe for China (Linked In has just been banned. Looks like it is back on again!) and a few like them who quite correctly live in daily terror of the population being informed!

The Resistance to Social Media:
You are there or you are ignored.

social-media-appsWe were in a board meeting of an international non-government organization two weekends ago and we began a discussion based on options if we were thinking of reaching a much larger audience of socially motivated young folks for future support. There definitely was some real intransigent resistance in the vagueness of the responses from the Managers who clearly wanted a more 1980 type of waffle campaign based on the experience of their youth rather than any understanding of 21st century realities! Social media brings a fundamental shift and challenge and the resistance will be there.

When Facebook and Twitter started, I was annoyed each time I got an invitation. I snuck into Linked-in as I thought it would be a low risk start as it is a professional network. But somehow, given that we travel constantly, we realized that if we want to talk to grandchildren or keep links with a world wide network of friends, Facebook is the answer as it is the media that not just kids, but hundreds of millions of adults tie up with. You are there or you are ignored.

How are organizations using social media?
How is it helping them?

Organizations are using social media platforms in imaginative ways as they learn how to navigate. Some have used it to enable customers to give them feedback on their products and services and make consumers feel like co-designers. Others, use it to promote their businesses even to let their customers know where they are and how they can find them and how to talk to them instantly. No waiting for Mr. Doofus “on another line”. Some engage the communities to design products with them, test out ideas on product design or new services or chat with them on some product features. CNN just referred to GM as social savvy, staying in constant conversation with the community.

Organizations have found how to communicate much more effectively using social media. They get instant feedback. It is more interactive. They can introduce products or ideas or opportunities faster and they can create a community of fans whose input are invaluable and who become their markets as well. Once on these sites, organizations get more creative and their online communities push them in many ways to innovate, and be more effective. Imagine organizing a revolution in the modern world without Facebook? Imagine stopping a revolution if Twitter is its core link device!

Challenge social media pose to organizations:
How do they respond to these challenges?

Organizations are sometimes reluctant to fully use social media inside the organization because of the challenges that come and have to be resolved. Everyday, some incidents regarding the use of social media take place that make you take notice. Facebook, Twitter and the other social media seem to get most of the praise and the blame. Here are some challenges organizations face and will be adding as other challenges surface.

Smaller volunteer organizations will find that social media will require so much of their time that they cannot afford much paid for involvement. They will also find it difficult to hire a full time person to handle this responsibility. They have to find more creative ways like involving their staff to create the links or run their personal Facebook or Twitter through the organization’s page. They have to decide the strategic importance of social media to the success of their organization before they invest in it. They can also develop partnerships with social media consultants who can assist them in taking affordable steps including networks of like minded groups in a sort of Tea Party miasma!.

Bigger organizations may have the time and the money but to strategize their presence may pose more of a challenge. There is always resistance in some pockets of the organization and this can block their effective presence and use of social media. Go to Facebook and see who’s there. The big guys are all coming on board with really neat strategies.

Other organizations with a more closed Apple-like culture will not readily go for this. They either just say no to it or develop a strategy which often takes so long that by the time they get in there, they have to do a lot of catching up with their competition. Once the train is out of the station, it’s the devil’s own job to catch up.

Twitter in the UK House of Commons?
Smartphones and iPads.

Smartphones and iPads allowed in the chamber of the UK hOuse of Commons? It looks like the procedures committee has ruled that members of Parliament be allowed to use smartphones and iPads during parliamentary debates. There’s a proviso, they have to be on silent and such use should not impair decorum. So, gone will be the paper notes. A few are lauding this common sense approach but others are not happy as they think this will change the atmosphere.

Social Media and Change inside the Organization:
The More Difficult Challenge.

The biggest challenge to organizations is not so much the use of social media to communicate with their external audience but the use of social media to encourage change within the organization. Engaging your inside community to think about changes to make your organization better will in the beginning be a messy process until everyone becomes comfortable and are all able to contribute more effectively. Just allowing this within the organization is already a big change. When everyone is able to contribute to what they think is best for the organization, you will have varied opinions and ways of doing so and surprises will come.

The best way is to have a transition strategy in place and introduce the change in such a way that enabling support be provided for people to be able to participate more effectively. The change in culture that this innovation will bring can create a shock that will paralyze the organization when not handled appropriately. Go easy. Rally everyone around the success of the organization.

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Ryan Mendez
Ryan Mendez is the coauthor of Bang For Your Buck and also has contributed to various newspapers in the past. He likes Creative writing and also meeting new friends.