I enjoyed a trip to BlogWorld Expo last week, and was honored to sit on a panel of industry-leaders to discuss the impacts of Social Media in the enterprise. Having participated in several such discussions this year, I continue to be stunned by the number of folks still in the 'convincing' or 'selling' mode.
Perhaps I'm just taking our evolution for granted - But I really struggle to understand how the debate persists. Especially with such compelling data around enterprise adoption so readily available.
Given the number of questions around overcoming this particular hurdle, I thought I'd share a few tips and tricks we used along our way. Not that there was ever resistance to the evolution at EMC, but there's always a crowd that needs help understanding the opportunities at hand...
It's all a fad....
First up, let's wrestle with this notion of Social Media being a 'thing' unto itself. To me, Social Media is simply the evolution of the web. Yesterdays web was a uni-directional broadcast channel. The modern web is bi-directional.
Social Media is simply the next step in the evolution of the Internet. It's not a fad nor is it going away. To suggest that a brand won't participate in the social web is becoming increasingly close to suggesting they're going to ignore the digital channel altogether.
Consumers have a growing expectation to interact with a brand in new ways. I'd suggest that brands who choose not to engage / participate with their audience will face a significant competitive threat from those that do.
How about a little listening?
One of my favorite tactics during our journey was to expose people to the conversations already taking place. If you have a product or service, it's likely there's a conversation taking place about you right now.
Take some time to explore the discussions underway. For me, I'd spend a few minutes on Twitter search, Google blog search, or any of the freely available tools out there. Drop in your product name, your brand, etc;. Grab the highlights of these discussions and share with the skeptics in the crowd.
I recall a great example where I'd come across some colorful competitive FUD in a forum. Grabbing the most provocative, I put together a slide sure to stir-up even the most complacent of hornets nests. After assembling the product team and sharing snippets of this real-world conversation, the reaction was as predicted...
"That's not true!!!", "How are they getting away with that?!?!"
Great guys... You want to join this conversation? We can have you engaged in about twenty minutes. :)
Sorry... By Chuck I'm referring to our own Chuck Hollis, EMC VP and CTO within Global Marketing. You can't have ours - but maybe you have your own?
Chuck has been an instrumental advocate throughout our journey. He saw the enormous opportunities ahead, as well as the significance of the transformation we were about to embark on. Not that we had piles of resistance, but having an executive who understood the strategic imperative at hand, and had a seat at the big table, was critical.
If at all possible, find your own executive advocate. If you encounter obstacles, this will prove to be an invaluable relationship.
Have you talked to your customers?
Getting audience sentiment on specific behaviors can be tricky - but very valuable.
In an effort to ensure we were engaging our audience on their turf, we did something really crazy... We talked to them. We wanted to understand their behaviors and desires... In the buying cycle, where were they getting their influence? Post purchase, how did *they* want to engage the brand? Were they using social tools for research and discovery, or were we trying to engage via a channel where our audience simply wasn't present?
The answer across the board? Whether looking for information during the purchase cycle or looking for post sale support, the social channels were rated highly important by about 40% of the folks surveyed... And this was two years ago. The numbers have only gone North since.
This sort of hard data around your audience's behaviors and expectations can be VERY powerful for those hesitant to jump into the pond.
These are but a few possible tactics you can use if faced with a social curmudgeon. I'm sure there are a pile more... In the interest of helping others overcome this challenge - what tactics have you had success with?