Many corporations and organizations still don’t really get social media, perhaps because they are operating in a former mode that denies social media realities. Many organizations, on the other hand, are using new media to connect in a with the public in a positive manner. Mostly, however, this doesn’t go beyond having a profile on Twitter and a Facebook fan page, perhaps a blog in rare cases–perhaps tweeting now and then about your organizational events, or when your CEO or founder is in the news. This is, in the end, not where the promise of social media engagement lies, but its inevitable white noise.
True engagement is ultimately about connecting with people (customers, prospects, partners, and the public at large) respectfully on a personal (or at least personable) level, in a way that they care about. When it comes to this, even some famous social media social media companies even fall far short. And while, arguably, social media may not help you if your company is built on “suckiness” (as opposed to awesomeness), and while a company may not be any more capable of connecting personally with every individual than the average social media guru, every organization can monitor brand reputation and engage with prospects and fans in an appropriate way, even respond to them visibily in front of onllookers, as time and manpower allows.
Being part of a community just feels better, and thus it makes us better at whatever we do. To fail to see that is to miss the central point of, not just building a brand, but of everything. Building a community may not seem to be what business is all about, but if you stop and think…it ultimately is: a community of allies, a community of people who understand what value you bring to the community-at-large.
For your brand evengelists to feel good about promoting your company to the world, you’re simply going to need that “awesomeness factor”. For B2C companies, the value of being popular is obvious. For B2B companies, it can be harder to envision. But in the post-bailout economy, entrepreneurs are the most touted source of innovation AND job-creation in the US by virtually every talking head from every think-tank around the country. Why? Because they are open to change, because they care about the product more, because they’re leaner and because this strength, like with B2C offerings, carries over to the end users, especially with entrepreneurs and small companies where people all know each other and talk about the product they produce. These end-users and their immediate clans experience the quality of the product first-hand. They become evangelists for the brand, too, just like in B2C, because they talk to their friends, to their business partners, and they find reinforcement in their beliefs about the brand by talking to–and reading–each other.
Now carry this over to social media in relation to PR communications. If brand evangelists are using social media, either as proud customers or even as company reps, won’t the company benefit? So then, when a company ignores this new rule of brand management, how do you think it affects their brand out in the virtual water coolers where people gather today after their lunch breaks? Do your company a favor? Think on it.