On Friday, July 30, 2010, I attended an online seminar hosted by Radian6 and starring Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group. Charlene talked about key points from her book, “Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead”. Below are some brief elaborations of the key points I live-tweeted during the seminar. You can listen to the entire recording on Radian6’s website.
Please note: All quoted text is attributed to Charlene, not me.
- “You are no longer in control because of these social technologies. Have the confidence and humility to give up the need to be in control” of both the message and the medium.
- The dialog between businesses and their customers is changing from formal press releases to chats on Facebook (John Deere) and question-and-answer sessions on Twitter (Best Buy’s Twelpforce). Starbucks is successful in crowdsourcing, for example, because they take the time to integrate it into their business (My Starbucks Idea). These relationships will deepen as the culture of sharing becomes more accepted.
- Learn and listen first. There is a movement from traditional market research to “anyone who can do a search”. Learning comes ahead of dialog, supporting, and innovating. Monitoring tools are key t0 success in learning about your customers and their needs; free, online tools like Google Blog Search and Twitter’s search engine are great starting points for listening.
- When businesses consider entering social media, they should think about blogs. “Blogs establish thought leadership” and showcase the act of sharing with your clients, partners, employees, etc. CEO blogs are good examples of this.
- Respect that the relationship your users want with you may not include engaging; they may just want to watch. When responding to feedback found via social media monitoring, start with comments on blogs. Use a personal approach instead of simply acknowledging the post with “send me an e-mail”; it’s less unsettling and sets a more comfortable tone.
- Pick one of your annual strategic goals where being open and social will have an impact. This decision is crucial for budget and buy-in from senior management.
- Prepare your organization for the new relationships your company will have when going social. Think about how you’re going to engage negative comments or reviews. Prepare for failure. Encourage dialog to foster trust and speed recovery. Follow Google’s mantra: “Fail fast and fail smart”.
- Create “sandbox covenants”: rules of engagement for how open your business will be in social media.
- Trust is not an absolute; it is built over time. “You may not trust a lot, so you may need to start with a small base”. Make small gains and show discipline in order to gain trust in use of social media and openness. You can’t have trust without responsibility. Being open means understanding the promises you’re making by establishing a relationship with your customers; it requires accountability.
- Explaining and updating are two ways people are often open within their organization. Being open doesn’t mean completely open, however; you don’t need to share everything. Most businesses have false sense of what “openness” means in social media.
- The key employees to seek out when staffing social media channels are those who are “obsessed about developing that relationship [between the business and the customer]. They see themselves as the glue tying people together” and can come from any dept: PR, IT, marketing, investor relations, etc.
- One of the biggest problems with social media in business is, “who owns the technology”. HP, for example, has multiple Facebook pages for their brands, but each has a consistent look-and-feel to help unite them.
- Capturing social media information for compliance (a requirement for government agencies) is difficult. There are ways to accomplish this on the back-end, but can be a challenge to identify people. The structure of regulated industries can give a more defined focus on how to drive their efforts. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Pfizer are examples of large, regulated firms who are well-established in social media.
Some of the many quotable quotes from the seminar included:
- “Can being more open help connect you with your customers? What do your customers what you to be more open about?”
- “You never know what’s going to happen on the other side of that tweet.”
- “I look at blogs and Twitter as two great cousins working together.”
- “People realize [that social media] isn’t a bright, shiny object any more… it’s here to stay.”
Many thanks to Radian6 and Charlene for an excellent seminar.