Every time someone asks me exactly what they can do to make their business become social, I find myself launching into a passionate monologue about behavioural triggers, social objects, offline and online integration, the value of engagement, blah blah blah.
Bullshit bingo, anyone? I’ve decided that next time I’m faced with that question I’m going to use three simple words.
Listen. Change. Measure.
The great thing is that this works both internally and externally. How? Lets tease it apart.
Listen. For consumers, this means finding out who is talking about you in social media, where, why, to who, what they are saying and how positive that conversation is. It also means benchmarking that against competitor conversation and listening for the unexpected patterns and trends: what other passions do people who love you also have? If there’s no conversation about you, what other topics are relevant to what you do? Are your audience even there at all? Internally, this means fully understanding how social your culture is right now. Auditing as many people in the company as possible about their behaviours, attitudes, hopes, fears and aptitudes about using social tools and engaging with each other and consumers in a transparent, seamless and inspiring way. This is essential if you are to measure something as subjective as cultural change.
Change. ‘Creating buzz’ isn’t good enough. A truly successful social project must change some sort of dial, be that in reaching new audiences, increasing sales, improving customer service, securing loyalty, doing more internal business deals, better inter-department communication. Any strategy must be focused on shifting behaviours, not just generating talk – and that’s hard to do. The strategy must come from the listening. How can you align with people’s existing passions and needs (be they consumers or colleagues)? How can you make the change productive and valuable for them? How can you give them control of the change? How can you make it feel good?
Measure. You need to have KPIs in place from the start. Make sure they’re the right ones, because you’ll value – and pursue – what you measure. If you care about garnering thousands of Twitter followers, fine. But if you care about people actually feeling differently about you, you’re going to have to be measuring depth, frequency and nature of engagement, positivity, breadth of platforms and much more. Internally, what do you really want to improve? Speed and flexibility of communication? Bringing down departmental barriers? More lateral thinking and risk-taking? Externally, you’ll have large-scale data to gather and interpret; internally, re-auditing people on those attitudes and aptitudes will be key to judging success.
I believe that the external social change can only begin with internal social change. The great thing is, the process works the same way.
Sure, you might be creating strategies and content plans and engaging bloggers and building apps and setting up internal platforms. But are you truly listening, changing and measuring every step of the way? The simplest questions are the hardest.