Social media – you’ve heard it all before

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

– Walt Disney Corporation

It’s been a while since I wrote about social media. If I’m honest, I haven’t felt I had much to say.

You don’t get it

Perhaps it’s me, but social media (however you perceive it) is never going to work unless companies/firms look beyond the sterile world of sales and marketing, and understand the internal dynamic. And I’m not talking about slapping on the regnant social media policy. I mean allowing your people the time and showing recognition for everyone doing more than to join a social network. (There should be no or few boundaries. If that means they want to curate material on Instagram or Pinterest or blog then go with it. There is no one size model for human beings.)

At the risk of reverting to the hackneyed and banal about social being a generational thing or companies not getting ‘it’, again, it’s high time that everyone stopped pretending that they’re doing social. From where I’m sat–largely outside the company/firm framework–it’s a con. At best you have an online presence but beyond that not much for the majority (how many dormant accounts are there on Twitter?).

We all know the reason: companies are scared, and they’ve communicated that fear to their staff.

They’re scared that if they go all in that something catastrophic will happen; namely someone will shoot their mouth off and bring the whole pack of cards down; or, more likely, that their level of productivity along with the rest of the employee cohort will fall off a cliff to the point where no work gets done and the business goes POP!

Really.

How misconceived.

You’re never going to get to that point for the simple reason that save for the three-line-whip, does-as-you’re-told type instruction, not everyone is interested in social media.

My #1 social media tip

Next time you attend a meeting where sales and/or marketing gets discussed, rather than demoting social media to the bottom of the list (or more likely AOB), instead put it at the top and make sure you give it the bulk of the meeting time. That way it will demonstrate a strategic as well as tactical intent that’s currently missing.

If you’re not sure what you should be talking about—you’ve gone through the usual metrics, i.e. shares and the like and found there’s not much to say—then ask the question: What does a business look like where digital is placed first in everything we do? Now, if that doesn’t start the social media engine, I don’t know what will.

I know what you’re thinking.

Don’t be stupid. We haven’t got time for this crap when we’ve a business to run.

But that’s just the point.

Until you move the digital needle, you’re not going to make any progress. Oh sure, you might crank out a few more Tweets, blog posts and Instagram pictures but how far is that truly going to get you, particularly if it has a central, top down theme?

One further thing…

When you say you’re not prepared to give your best stuff away, you miss the entire point of social media; namely to earn attention. This isn’t just about the power of free. This is about standing head and shoulders above everyone else. It doesn’t mean to shout louder! No, you have to be prepared to commit your passion to a project and be prepared to share it without any material gain.

Too often companies are looking at the ROI before they look at the client-centric nature of their content. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t both play a part in your efforts but too often if a business doesn’t get immediate results they give up or think that social is a waste of time. And before you ask what your best stuff looks and feels like, you really shouldn’t be in the game if you have to ask that sort of question. It’s the sort of stuff that taps the emotional connection that forms the focal point of your brand and offering. Even if you’re selling services, it shouldn’t be hard to tap the emotions of people who desire trust, fairness and excellence in their dealings. Demonstrate that and you’ll have them eating out of your hand.

PS. When people ask me what I do, I no longer talk about social media. I find it isn’t helpful. Instead, I tend to talk about helping bring about a digitally enabled company. In that way, I find it takes us away from the platforms and more in the direction of the culture and the people which is where the real action starts.