Has your company’s claim to embrace social media gone unfulfilled? Have your efforts to establish a social media presence fallen flat? Do you feel like you’ve spun your wheels to get your company on various social media platforms, and you’re on the road to nowhere? Have you given it a try, deemed the attempt futile, and now you’re ready to snuff out any lingering social media enthusiasm?
If you were nodding your head in agreement to any of those questions, or if all of the above sounds like your organization’s social media experience in a nutshell, might I suggest that perhaps you’ve neglected to include a healthy dose of the key ingredient for successfully adding social media to the marketing mix.
Culture is the key ingredient
Judy Gombita’s post claims that social business cultures are starting to come of age for savvy organizations with forward-thinking leadership. If you don’t currently find your organization fits into this category, it’s important to acknowledge that change is necessary.
To successfully add social media to the marketing mix, your organization must not only have forward-thinking leadership, but it is crucial that the business have a healthy culture, which starts with leadership. And make no mistake, this “healthy culture” has nothing to do with your employees’ sick leave usage rates.
So, how exactly do you classify the culture of an organization as healthy? Here are 3 attributes of a healthy culture:
- Minimal confusion and politics. Cultures classified as healthy aren’t going to be infamous for office gossip or power plays, but rather open communication and collaboration.
- High morale and productivity. Employees in a healthy corporate culture are empowered to be productive and look forward to contributing to the company’s overall success.
- Low turnover of good people. If you’re privileged to be part of a healthy company culture, chances are you value being part of that workforce and realize the grass is certainly not greener.
Leadership Involvement is Not Optional
Creating a healthy organization requires leadership that is involved. Leaders should be the frontrunners, guiding, supporting, educating and encouraging support staff, empowering them with fresh ideas and insights that will, in turn, forge leadership to take the company even further ahead.
Consistent actively engaged leaders must:
- Create and nurture values and norms that empower.
- Foster connection across functions internally and externally.
- Nurture curiosity, questions, and healthy debate.
- Provide consistent customer experiences.
- Fulfill colleagues, improving retention.
- Equip and empower employees to perform to their maximum potential.
CEO’s and Top Executives Set the Tone for Organizational Culture
According to an IBM study, CEO’s are beginning to understand that email and phones aren’t sufficient to get the message out. Using social media to engage employees, partners, and customers enables an organization to be more nimble, allowing connectivity with today’s agile workforce.
If You Don’t have a Social CEO You’re Going to Be Less Competitive emphasizes that CEOs and their executives set the cultural tone for an organization. “Through participation, they implicitly promote the use of social technologies that will make their organizations more competitive and better able to adapt to sudden market changes.”
What is Management’s Role in Achieving Social Success?
Achieving social success requires a different management style, one that relinquishes control and embraces the principles of:
- Participation—ensure open dialogue
- Purpose—ability to identify progress toward overall goals and objectives
- Performance—advocate community-based ideas corporately
Managers Need to Up their Game points out that collective responsibility can be a thorny issue. After all, it directly challenges pre-established hierarchical authoritarian views.
This notion of collective responsibility and collaboration could turn many companies on their heads; businesses that still operate under the guises of yesteryear, where managers get all the credit, will be challenged head-on by the management style suggested for a social organization. It is truly a shift in paradigm. I’d like to argue if an organization finds themselves caught in the tangled net of stringent hierarchy, social media success will be extremely challenging, if possible at all.
Why all the Hoopla? What does Social add to the marketing mix?
If you’ve deemed your company’s culture far from healthy, you might wonder if trying to fight the good fight is even worth it. Let me assure you that it is, and here are some of the reasons why:
Social is an opportunity to have a voice/ listen. It allows organizations to actively engage customers and partners, by listening, asking, observing, and adapting.
Social is a venue to let your organization’s personality shine. People want to do business with people, not to be advertised to.
Social enables organizations to identify and solve problems and be responsive. Social businesses are also able to adapt to the communications preferences of constituents, and offer feedback right where conversations are happening. A social organization has the ability to hear from all stakeholders, internal and external.
Social Influence is greatly expanded in an organization with a healthy social culture. Customers share experiences with others, creating word-of-mouth opportunities. Pepsico’s Employee Program is a great example of how the company’s corporate culture offers chances for colleagues to share about company products and services. Strive to be a company whose employees are so delighted that they’ll naturally want to amplify their satisfaction socially.
Social is connection. Most organizations are aligned by function, and while this is often necessary, it can create connection barriers; often referred to as silos. Silos occur because employees tend to focus on their particular task or operation, and fail to see the larger customer experience objectives. Traditionally, marketing efforts are focused externally with little internal communication.
Organizations that add social to the marketing mix develop a different mindset, recognizing that a differentiating customer experience requires internal alignment of values. Leaders work to ensure that collaboration and engagement across all touch points results in productive conversations by tapping into the collective experience of all colleagues.
Social allows customers and prospects to interact with the brand in more personal ways. Consumers want to share successes and to be understood; social companies with Facebook pages, for example, offer a venue where a brand can hear directly from the consumer without a face-to-face meeting or a formal notice.
Adding Social to the Marketing Mix: Where do you begin?
Most organizations set up social media connections tactically, without addressing the larger cultural issues. Tactical social media places an organization at a disadvantage. The following are necessary to get started on the right foot to being a social organization:
- Engage internal and external stakeholders…lead by example. Enthusiastically announce your plans to be an organization of mass collaboration, and set out some guidelines.
- Empower colleagues. Offer suggestions to encourage mass collaboration from the top down.
- Inform – social is different, less-formal kind of communication that internal colleagues might need help getting used to. Use social to reinforce information about campaigns or marketing programs and how they will be affected.
- Listen – Ask for input and feedback.
- Take action – based on input and suggestions.
- Create cross-functional interaction to facilitate sharing of ideas and information.
- Recognize examples of collaboration, provide feedback.
Does your organization have the key ingredient necessary? If not, what are ways you can begin to foster a healthy culture?