The Unspoken Barrier to Social Media

My recent posts talked about Social Media reaching the tipping point and the factors leading to mass adoption of Social Media. But what is the one thing that will separate out the Social Media successes from the failures?

Barriers to Social Media

If you are thinking ROI and Metrics: yes, they are important and very good answers. The others listed in the Equation Research study are important as well. But I think the biggest contributing factor to the Social Media success story will be COMPANY CULTURE. Social Media is about building a culture of collaboration, authenticity, trust, openness and innovation. Companies that are able to build such a vibrant culture will grow and thrive and create value for their shareholders.

When you think of Social Media successes, the first company that comes to mind is Zappos. Customer Service is in Zappos’ culture, its DNA. Zappos built a real culture that puts the customer first, rather than lip service and mission statements. The story of the Zappos rep who sent flowers to the lady whose husband had died in a car accident is mind blowing. The first week of training at Zappos is not about Social Media tools and technology, but about Zappos’ culture and core values (Number 1 value is Deliver WoW through Service).

But culture is also the hardest to change. The following comment by Andy Sernowitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing, sums it well.

Don’t underestimate the amount of bravery it takes. You find yourself almost immediately in a two-front war, fighting both an entrenched bureaucracy and a skeptical audience.

It is about fear of letting go, fear of losing control.

It is also harder because social media touches almost all parts of your organization.

  1. With your employees available on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, customers don’t rely on the 800 or the PO BOX number to get in touch with you. They can get in touch with who they want and when they want. An awful amount of power in the hands of the customer, right?
  2. Point 1 combined with the increasing and changing customer demands puts a lot more pressure on your research, customer service, operations, technology, PR, distribution, marketing and legal departments to function more efficiently and respond to customer needs/problems more quickly.

Does this mean you should give up on Social Media? Hell, no. Social Media is here to stay. But that doesn’t mean that you should start sending gifts or flowers to all your customers. Not every company needs to or should become Zappos. Companies need to think hard about their overall organization structure and strategy before they say “yes” to Social Media.

And if you are looking to change your culture for better social media adoption, here are a few things you can do:

  • Hire the right people, empower them and encourage them to take risks
  • Create the policies and guidelines so that people don’t go overboard and overexpose the firm
  • Have a CEO and senior management who is open to new ideas and embracing change
  • And finally, reward the risk takers and celebrate their failures

Some other interesting read on this subject

Getting in Touch
Email: guptanitinonline@gmail.com
Twitter: NitinGuptasays

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About Nitin Gupta

This blog compiles my thoughts and views on the innovations, tools and trends in digital marketing. I have spent more than a decade in financial services, last few studying retail banking and payments industry trends. Particularly interested in the convergence of digital, data, technology and financial services. Email: guptanitinonline@gmail.com Twitter: NitinGuptasays LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/guptanitinonline
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9 comments
guptanitin
guptanitin

Aaron, Excellent post. And thanks for visiting the DMT blog. I find the analogy to the postal stamp very interesting: you don't mind if I use it someday, right? :) You are absolutely right: social media has to be a part of your overall marketing strategy and plan. You cannot think of social media in isolation. In fact, Social Media touches each and every part of your organization and that is why it is better to adopt a step by step approach. I could not find the digital marketing strategy model on your website. Can you please send it to me? I am at guptanitinonline@gmail.com Thanks Nitin

Aaron Savage
Aaron Savage

I sometimes think that conversations about how to use social media effectively are a bit like similar conversations about postage stamps. Just 'doing' social media is never going to be enough. It is a measure of the content that you have, how it is packaged up and where it is sent that are the important questions. Your content should be relevant and timely, and it should provoke or request a response of some form. I prefer to see social media as a means to drive traffic to another location (such as maybe a website) and to continue the overall digital marketing strategy from that point. If you think about social media in isolation it probably isn't going to achieve much for you. I think that is one of the problems with digital marketing in general, that it is too often thought of in terms of boutique services like Search, email, media buying, web design or social media. Digital marketing is an end to end solution which encompasses all the disciplines in a joined up framework. If you are interested I created a digital marketing strategy model to highlight this. Social media is a huge driver of traffic within this but I think all too often people new to the discipline spend a lot of time shouting into a void a message that is all too often lost in a sea of sound. Picking relevant topics and adding to them is a great way to start. It’s about being brave enough to treat customers as individuals and being prepared to listen to what they say.

Gurus of Growth
Gurus of Growth

Relevant, timely and very informative. What makes social media a tough element to take care of is its constant need for creativity, innovation and the use of progressive communication, as well as other essentials. Thanks for sharing and keep those posts coming!

Nitin Gupta
Nitin Gupta

The StratGrow team, Welcome to the DMT community. Absolutely: as Mark pointed out as well, keeping the audience engaged is proving to be one of the toughest challenge. Thanks Nitin

Nitin Gupta
Nitin Gupta

Mark, Ahhhh, viral marketing: absolutely agree: it is always hard to keep coming up with something that will be engaging, fun and stimulating for the readers. An issue not just for small businesses, but for bloggers as well! Thanks for the RT and your comment.

Mark W Schaefer
Mark W Schaefer

Something I've been thinking aboujt, and will probably be writing about , is "content" as tghe barrier. This may be expressesd in other ways such as "time" or "resources" but I think content is a fundamental issue, especially if you're a very small company. Great post -- Thanks!

Daksh
Daksh

Nitin - I won't be surprised if there are variations in this trend if you move beyond the geographical boundaries of US. Secondly, this survey just accounts for 85 brand marketers which in my opinion is although influential, but isn't sufficient enough to make a justifiable prediction. I think you already mentioned, it is boiling down to the the 'ROI' part. There are a couple of problems that I see there a.) Lack of processes, methods and most importantly the tools to measure ROI. b.) Justification of every dollar spent which goes beyond the no. of backlinks/comments/followers. Daksh

guptanitin
guptanitin

Daksh, You are right: the barriers may change a little as you move outside of NA. The barriers will also vary as you start looking at different industries. For example, I know for financial services compliance and regulation will be a big barrier. Each and every tweet of Bob Reynolds (CEO, Putnam Investments) has to be approved by the compliance dept before it goes out

Daksh
Daksh

Very insightful Nitin, I will check his tweet.

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