social media enlightenment

I’m sure may of you can remember a time not so long ago when we didn’t have websites.

In the late 1980s there was an absolute frenzy to get on the web … and figure out how to make money from it. As we moved from methods of communication based on printed materials to digital materials, many of us went through the New Technology Stages of Grief:

Denial — “This whole internet thing will blow over.”

Anger — “What do you mean go digital? Do you know how much money we make from these print catalogs?”

Bargaining — “OK, maybe we can live in both worlds?”

Depression — “You mean I have to shut down the print design department?”

Acceptance — “OK, I get it now. Let’s move with this new website!”

If you were around in those days, you’ll probably recognize those same stages occurring in your organization with the social media wave today.

But the dawn of acceptance portends a new problem — the gold rush. Once companies decided to go all-in on the Internet, it created a frenzy that led to irrational decisions driven by a fear of being left behind. Maybe that sounds familiar now, too?

In the 1990s, the transition from gold rush to strategic success only began to occur when companies started to break this new technology down into “success components” that enabled their strategic direction. For a website, this might mean:

  • Better customer service through 24 x 7 online access
  • eCommerce that provided convenience and access to vast new audiences
  • A repository of information to answer questions and cut service costs

Today, many companies are still struggling to see where social media fits strategically because they are in the gold rush phase instead of considering the possibilities created by these new, unique “success components:”

  • An opportunity to create small, consistent interactions through content that lead to awareness, engagement, connection, and loyalty
  • A mechanism to re-gain direct ownership of a customer relationship
  • An effective channel for customer service
  • An opportunity to “tune-in” to customer sentiment, feedback, and competitive intelligence.

Instead of thinking narrowly about the “need to put up a Facebook page,” perhaps it is time to evolve in our thinking and consider how the success components embedded in these platforms can align with our specific business objectives. At that point, we will be moving out of social media depression and on to a path of business success!

How do these ideas land on you? Let me know what you think in the comment section!

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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