||The Biggest Mistake Companies Make With Social Media
Companies often hear that they need to get on social media, but the path toward a vibrant Twitter or Facebook feed is filled with lots of potential pitfalls.
With this in mind, we posed the following question to The Experts: What's the biggest mistake companies make with social media?
This discussion relates to a recent Journal Report on Leadership in IT and formed the basis of a discussion on The Experts blog on Oct. 21.
Want to Screw Up Your Social Media? Keep Doing What You're Doing.
CESARE MAINARDI: What's the biggest mistake companies make with social media? They try to go social with the same old way of doing things. And going online with a "9-to-5," traditional command-and-control mindset is an almost certain recipe for disaster. Maximizing the potential of social media requires a real reboot in the mindset of your company and how it connects with employees, users, customers and the broader public. The new recipe is dynamic, always-on, sharing-centric and participatory. And it requires fundamentally new capabilities.
A social-media presence has become corporate table stakes: 95% of companies expect to invest more in social media and 96% are developing a social-media strategy. How can companies ensure that these investments don't go to waste? They need deep capabilities in new areas: In community management to grow and activate audiences, in content development to engage users and consumers and in real-time insights to analyze behavior and measure impact. The evolution of these capabilities, concentrated in the "big three" of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, represents a major opportunity to generate value by building powerful, lasting relationships with consumers through digital communities.
And the leading companies in the social sphere are not just building these capabilities, but also investing to make them distinctive: so ingrained, proficient, and individually tailored to their strategies that competitors can't catch up. To accomplish this, companies must actively transform their key business functions from marketing to product development.
Look at how Burberry reimagined its fashion shows -- once elite, exclusive and effectively off-limits to the brand's many admirers. The company started live streaming the shows directly to millions of fans on Facebook. Burberry also created the "Tweetwalk," an innovative, real-time social media experience in which every fashion show element was tweeted before the models hit the runway. Burberry isn't using social as a channel -- it's using it to fully digitize its brand, transform its organization, and unlock market-leading performance. Those are the digital stakes we're all playing for.
Cesare R. Mainardi is chief executive officer of global management consulting firm Booz & Co.
The Stupid Social-Media Assumptions Companies Make
NOREENA HERTZ: There are three main mistakes companies currently make when it comes to social media.
First they often ignore the question of representativeness. If you are listening in via social media you're probably only hearing a very particular group, representative at best only of those with similar demographic characteristics. Until you know and understand those demographics, it's important not to extrapolate too much from the data.
Second they often make premature assumptions about the relationship between what people say online and the precise actions they subsequently take. If someone tweets positively about Hershey, presumably that means that they buy their chocolate. But we don't yet know how many Hershey bars they will buy and how often. I am working with data scientists and social scientists on answering such questions. But for now it's a mistake to assume clear-cut correlations.
The third problem relates specifically to attempts to automate the listening-in process. For although we're moving toward a future in which computers are likely to have a decent chance of being able to make sense of large numbers of posts and tweets we're not there yet.
This is in large part because despite the considerable progress being made on computational semantics, even if programs are built that can read vast amounts of online data, computers are still pretty poor at determining what it is that people actually mean or feel. Computers Hoover up text, but the text is de-contextualized, stripped bare of human meaning, motive and intention. More generally listening in is stymied by the difficulty computers still have with discerning humor, irony or sarcasm.
This doesn't mean that computer programs and algorithms are for now useless. Far from it. But it suggests that there will remain a significant role for humans to play in analyzing what spikes and trends actually mean, in assessing how representative those we are listening in on really are, and in putting what it is we hear into context.
Noreena Hertz is based at the Centre for the Study of Decision-Making at University College London. She is the author of the recently published "Eyes Wide Open: How to Make Smart Decisions in a Confusing World."
Talking @ People on Social Media Doesn't Work. Talking With Them Does.
ROSABETH MOSS KANTER: The biggest mistake companies make with social media is similar to the same mistake they've been making since the dawn of the digital age: They think of it as one-way communication. They think they can use these tools to talk AT people rather than chat WITH them, and fail to value the input coming from the other side of what becomes a pseudo-conversation. For example, marketing departments often talk collaboration, but when it comes to action, they still think of themselves as pushing a message out. The second-biggest mistake is assuming that a company controls the message. With social media, the message is what users choose to shape and send.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle professorship at Harvard Business School, where she specializes in strategy, innovation and leadership for change.
Three Ways Companies Blow it With Social Media
JAY HOOLEY: There are three big mistakes businesses can make with social media:
1) Talking at people instead of having conversations. Social media is inherently interactive and too many companies use it to post nothing but information about their own company. The right thing to do on social media is share thoughts, opinions and resources that encourage conversation. Good social media strategists ask questions and think about education more than promotion when developing content.
2) Expecting instantaneous or "viral" success. A crucial thing to remember with social media is that it's a big investment for a larger corporation. It takes time and resources to increase your organization's clout and influence on social media -- and often what looks like a "viral" smash requires a carefully planned orchestration of owned, earned and paid media to gain momentum. Starting a blog and failing to tend to it can be a huge waste of resources and detrimental to your brand, just as having a Twitter feed lie dormant sends the wrong message and becomes a liability rather than an asset for your marketing teams.
3) Being predisposed to the thought that social is "not for them" because they aren't a consumer business. The mass syndication, free access and ubiquity of social media aren't the only things that make it great. Social media is also wonderful at organizing information and helping connect people and organizations that share a similar worldview, no matter how niche the audience.
Jay Hooley is chairman, president and CEO of State Street Corp.
Stop Wasting Your Company's Money on Social Media!
KENNETH FREEMAN: Many companies are jumping on the social-media bandwagon without a social-media strategy and outcome metrics in place. An August 2013 survey of Chief Marketing Officers indicates that only 15% have seen proven quantitative impact from their social-media marketing expenditures. At the same time, these CMOs expect to double social-media spending in the next five years.
Social media impacts consumer behavior. In the short term, a series of consumer attitudinal responses such as awareness, consideration, liking and intention gradually move consumers along the purchase funnel. It is possible for brands to trace these steps on the path to purchase on social media by monitoring when people start conversing, become fans or followers, become engaged, share content, etc. Unless firms improve their metrics and marketing analytics to obtain better forecasts on long-term brand performance by tracing these intermediate customer mind-set metrics and ultimately use them to pin down a clear social media strategy, the use of social media will only be a me-too play for some of them.
In addition, companies often try to control the message that goes out to the audience, rather than allowing for and encouraging a more organic and authentic dialogue with consumers. Authentic/honest communication should increase consumer trust and brand loyalty in the long term.
Kenneth W. Freeman is the Allen Questrom professor and dean of Boston University School of Management.
Don't Play the Social-Media Guessing Game
JEFF JONAS: Lots of companies are asking how to associate a Tweeter to their customer master file. Good luck. The problem is, rarely do Twitter accounts contain sufficient features to make any high-quality assertion about who in the real world is saying these things.
Monitoring topics that are trending in social media is not so hard. Learning who exactly is saying what is hard. My advice is to start a conversation with the speaker. When a tweet is of interest, respond. Communicate with them. Provide something valuable (or better yet something irresistible) that involves revealing some additional attributes, like an email address. This is more practical than guessing who is who.
One additional word of caution: Just because you have a mountain of data, does not mean there is gold in those hills.
Jeff Jonas is an IBM fellow and chief scientist of the IBM Entity Analytics Group.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal, 10/24/13)
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