Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Expanding the conversation – giving everyone in your business a voice – 6

Posted in strategy and planning, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on May 31, 2011

This is my sixth installment in a series oriented towards effectively implementing social media in a business or organization, as a means of widening the marketing and communications conversation (see Web 2.0 Marketing, postings 55, 56, 58, 59 and 60.)

So far I have posted to build a case for deploying social media as a suite of resources for marketing and communicating and with a wider range of voices involved and heard from. I have gone from there to discuss some of the basic tools and approaches that are used in implementing this approach, and I particularly cite Part 2 here with its discussion of Social Media Guidelines as a framework for safe participation, and both for employees in general and for the business as a whole.

The most recent installment before this: Part 5 turned to issues of return on investment from social media involvement, and how to track where social media initiatives lead to business transactions and revenue generation.

• There, and with effective tracking through use of unique URL’s and other means, a business can measure impact on its usual and ongoing business flow.
• It can also set up and run marketing campaigns specifically addressing the social media community if targeting that demographic with specific marketing campaigns and sales offerings would make sense for them and their business model.

My goal with this posting is to go beyond measurement of immediate return on investment, to look at the potential that social media offers as a source of longer term value.

• Social media, and support of a wider ranging voice from within the business leads to a more nuanced and wide-ranging message, and it conveys a message that employees in general in that organization are involved and respected. This creates a strong sense of wide ranging involvement with the marketplace too and interest and respect for the needs and concerns of the people there, customer and potential customer alike.
• Effective use of social media also conveys a strong message that this is an organization that is not falling behind the times. They are alert and aware, and involved and where their customers are.
• Both convey very powerful and positive branding messages and this does improve that business’ positioning for any marketing or sales initiatives.

At the same time, social media used two-way – out of and back into the organization, creates effective channels for developing marketplace knowledge and business intelligence – and with the hands-on experts who work in the areas that this specific information involves seeing it and collecting it to share with others in the business. I particularly note the section on responding to marketplace feedback (Section 4) in the Social Media Guideline as outlined in Part 2 in this context, as effective response involves more than just responding back to outside members of the community who enter into social media conversations. This also involves gathering, organizing and sharing information in-house that has been obtained through these conversations, and with contextual explanations and analyses added as needed and appropriate.

Social media with effectively crafted messages going out to the marketplace and community can and does invite feedback and this means creating an opportunity and forum for crowd sourcing too, and the value of insight and creative input at that level too. This can be of particular importance in consumer preference driven markets and certainly where preferences shift and change rapidly and in a fad-driven manner. But crowd sourced insight offers at least some potential value for most any business or organization insofar as this can help to more clearly identify and understand marketplace needs and preferences. Social media provides direct, unfiltered insight that is self-selected as to source to include the more active communicators who have something to say.

So use here-and-now feedback capabilities such as unique URL’s for here-and-now, short term analysis and tuning of return on investment capabilities. But think in terms of, and develop and maintain social media outreach with longer term value in mind too.

As a final thought here in this posting, I want to explicitly point out one thing that social media outreach is not, in this context. This is not simply about numbers of blog or tweet readers – sticky eyeballs, to use the terminology popular before the first big dot-com bubble burst. This is about developing real conversations and real relationships that can and do translate into real transactions and real business. Social media in that regard creates a platform for engagement, and a framework for cultivating wider, deeper involvement.

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