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?
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.
- 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?
- 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
- Social Media is part of Corporate Innovation Strategy
- HBR: Creating a Culture of Innovation
- Designing the Social Business
- 7 Things to Think About Before Jumping In