Social Nation: Harness the Power of Social Media to Drive Engagement
By: Barry Libert
Success in today’s connected world of social media is increasingly tied to more modern, collaborative business approaches -- such as crowd sourcing, open sourcing, social sourcing, and word of mouth marketing -- platforms that exude characteristics of ‘connectedness’ more than ‘management’.
It is in every organization’s best interest to build a social nation of friends and followers who can help each other achieve their full potential and avoid the sentiments so well expressed in the 1999 Monster advertisement.
As a leading social media company , our experience in building and managing more than 15,000 online communities indicate that there are seven principles for success to transform your organization into one that highly engages its customers, motivates its employees and partners, and creates dedicated, long-term investors. Here are seven principles to enable these entities to be more fulfilled as they achieve their full potential:
Rule 1: Develop Your Social Skills: Leaders in today’s socially networked world are expected to follow as much as they lead, while still providing structure and support. Example: Ducati, the world-famous Italian Motorcycle maker, realized that by creating both on and offline communities of its enthusiasts they could spread the Ducati brand. They also let people create their own modifications and add-ons and display those modifications both in person and online. In so doing, they essentially let their community of owners, dealers and prospective buyers reshape the image of Ducati.
Rule 2: Let Company Culture Lead Your Way: When building your social organization, remember that company culture is very important, so let open and honest culture be a guiding principle. Example: Tony Hseih, the founder of Zappos, created his firm based on a simple notion -- that achieving happiness is a universal principle and is applicable to both work and at home; with our friends and family members, as well as customers and employees. The result: he built two highly successful companies, most recently Zappos, which he sold to Amazon.
Rule 3: Mind Your Online and Offline Manners: How you say something -- be it online or off -- is as important as what you say, and can help make the difference in gaining fans, friends and followers who are engaged and committed, whether they are employees, customers, investors or partners. Example: Emily Post was the famed keeper of good etiquette of a time that has long passed us by. However, her grandson, Peter, keeps her thoughts and messages alive for our internet lives. His message of Netiquette is the same as his grandmothers; it’s not only what you say, but how you say it.
In a world dominated by online communications, how you say something (your tone and sentiment) is as important to building relationships as what you say (content and context) especially if you want to build loyal relationships with employees and customers that mirror the values you cherish and nurture at home. Learn to be a responsible social media leader.
Rule 4: Listen, Learn, and Adopt: Social intelligence enables your company to benefit from all that is happening around you, including the conversations of your constituents so you can adapt what you do and how you do it to better meet the needs of your customers, employees and market demands. Example: Webkinz and its founder, Samuel Ganz, understands that what happens offline to build a great business is based on the feedback of customers and prospects and the ability to act on their recommendations.
The moral of the story is every company needs to really listen, learn and adopt to the needs of others if they want to really create communities of constituents that support them to either buy their products and services or devote themselves to an organization.
Rule 5: Include Others in Everything You Do: As an organization that is seeking to benefit from a broad range of communities that increasingly go beyond your employee base; relying on others in every part of your company is the only way to adapt what you do and how you do it to stay competitive. Example: Mountain Dew has major competitors including Coke. So in order to compete, they turned to their passionate customers for new flavors and brand concepts.
They called this nation of devoted fans Dewmocracy. Each year, they pick the top three new formulas and brand positioning based on customer input which is an amazing concept for all companies to follow if they really want to engage the hearts and minds of their constituents.
Rule 6: Rely on Others for Growth and Innovation: Friends, fans and followers are instrumental in achieving growth in today’s connected world. This means you need to engage people on their terms if you want to build new products and services that matter. Example: General Electric (GE) is proving that this really works with their Ecomagination initiatives. This initiative has received thousands of proposals to create new and alternative energy efficient technologies.
In short, they have engaged everyone with a passion for finding a problem to our energy issues worldwide, including global warming; to share their ideas so that GE can grow and innovate based on others insights and creative passions. Learn to cultivate employee performance.
Rule 7: Reward Others and You Will Be Rewarded Too: As organizations focus more and more on social connections, interactions and relationships, they want to be rewarded emotionally as well as financially. Successful businesses will have to meet both needs. Example: Apple has mastered this technique. The iPad is one the fastest adopted technologies of all times. Plus they have built and rewarded a community of developers that don’t work for them to create hundreds of thousands of applications.
Imagine one day your company with friends and followers, fans and company advocates buying your products, but also, developing your next technology. If you can, you will be the next Apple because you share the rewards with them. In Apple’s case 70% of the revenues derived from the app exchange go to the developers and 30% to Apple. Think about crowd or open-sourcing your next product or service offering and putting in place a revenue sharing mechanism of 70% to your partners, 30% to your organization and watch the community grow, as well as your new product and service offerings.
Barry Libert is author of Social Nation: How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Attract Customers, Motivate Employees, and Grow Your Business and has published five books on the value of social and information networks. He is Chairman and CEO of Mzinga®, the leading provider of social software, services, and analytics that improve business.
Read more from Barry Libert in the MonsterThinking blog - Adam Smith 2.0: Social Media's Power to Build Trust