Conversations between a social business and their alumni (read: customers) and partners should be, well, an actual conversation. Information should no longer be pushed out from the ‘social media suite’ where messages are carefully crafted, tailored and often stoic marketing messaging; rather, companies should allow their employees to have genuine conversations and build eminence via the company’s social channels. Why is this important? Raymond Nasher, a famed Dallas developer, is credited with once saying that you should create an alumnus, not a customer of your business. His reasoning? Customers come and go but alumni always come back. If NorthPark Center (his highly-successful retail development) is any indication, I think Mr. Nasher was on to something: social business is not about creating customers, it’s about creating alumni (b2c and b2b) – and your employees can help!
The days of needing so-called ‘social media experts’ are over; your company’s employees are those experts, and they are ready to dig in to help you build your social business. Where and who are these experts? Take a look around your office and you’ll find your social media team sitting right there with you. Go ahead, look around… yes, I’m serious here; look around, view some emails, scan your address book (and memories) for names of your colleagues. See everyone?
There they are! They are your experts and they are the team members who will help grow your social business, creating alumni for your company. Now, take a moment to surface a few names of people who:
• Are go-to leaders for product and business expertise
• Are high-performers
• Have good relationships with multiple departments and teams
• Help put ideas together and
• Who openly share their experiences
If all of the employees at your company are content creators, think of these people as your content curators. The content creators generate the great content which drives engaging conversation and builds eminence and thought-leadership for your company while the content curators weave the stories throughout your social channels.
Open content creation for company social channels breeds a new level of engagement; one that is no longer constrained by marketing heads who think social is all about distributing MarCom while stifling the voice of the employee. Rather, it’s one that puts the power to connect with your alumni network in the hands of the people who already help build your “brick-and-mortar” business daily. Why limit the building of your social business to the 7 people (the size of your social media team, give or take a few) who sit in the ‘social media suite’ crafting messaging around marketing and responding to edge-cases when you can let 70,000 people (the size of your company, give or take a few 10,000) craft content that is meaningful, engaging and relevant? Consider the sales rep who wants to have a social dialogue with their contacts; the engineer who is a thought-leader but their messaging never leaves the office; the service rep who has great technical skill but is limited to sharing that knowledge with their immediate team; the RN who wants to share small bits of helpful knowledge to patients everywhere but their knowledge is only heard by a select lucky few. It is these 70,000 voices that will create alumni and build your social business, not the voice of 7.
You may be more than a little nervous with the disruptive idea of turning 70,000 people loose with the keys to your social business kingdom (and if you’re a healthcare company you likely just fainted and are now reading this 5 minutes after using a cold compress to wake yourself up). While this idea sounds daunting at first things are never as bad as they seem; in fact, those 70,000 voices already hold the keys to your company’s kingdom. The 70,000 already build your product, speak to your customers and manage your partner relationships today in the brick-and-mortar world; this simply expands that empowerment to the social world.
So how do you enable the 70,000 to create content that builds eminence and promotes genuine conversation while weaving a cohesive story and protecting your company’s brand? Stay tuned for my next blog post to find out or contact me for more details!