Social media has grown way beyond being a marketing, public relations, and communications tool. At its heart the core of social media is connecting people, an ever evolving opportunity for people to engage, discuss, and share perspectives, opinions, and information. So by definition social media impacts most aspects of an organization including product development, customer service, HR, and crisis management.
Are you thinking through the best ways to use social media effectively throughout your organization to meet your goals and build community? Here are just a few examples of the many applications social media has across the organization:
Customer Service. Customers and potential customers are most likely discussing your products and services online, providing a constant virtual focus group. If customers do not get the service they want or something goes wrong with a product, they will be quick to share it online. Be sure to respond quickly and helpfully, remembering your response and the customer’s are in a very public forum.The positive is when you shine, you also may get complimented in that same public space. Obviously you want the positives to go viral, not to be a negative example used by social media experts for years to come (as happened with “United Breaks Guitars“).
This is all one more reason why most organizations want to have a strong presence on primary sites like facebook and twitter to provide outstanding customer service while also supporting their branding and messaging goals. Many organizations also encourage customer reviews on their own web sites getting the opportunity to address issues as they arise and get honest feedback about their products.
New Product Development. Listening to customers’ conversations on social media can provide invaluable input and pinpoint trends to help hone current products and services and get ideas for new ones. Innovative organizations have set up special web sites to invite customers to share new product ideas and vote on favorite ideas others have submitted, for example “My Starbucks Idea.” The sites often offer incentives such as potential prizes for winning ideas.
Crisis Planning and Management. The power of social media to build community and communicate makes it a critical interactive tool in a crisis. Messages can be communicated on the fly to the public and the media. Conversation on sites like facebook and google plus about ongoing issues can keep people up-to-date and get their questions answered.
Just be careful to ensure anyone speaking on behalf of the organizations is careful about the statements they make online just as they hopefully will through other venues, since you don’t want an unfortunate phrasing regarding your crisis to go viral. Experts say being straightforward, honest, quick to respond, and deeply concerned about all involved are critical for how your organization will be perceived in the aftermath of a crisis.
Internal Operations/Knowledge Sharing. Intranets have blossomed into internal social networking sites that include interactive conversations with leadership, professional development webinars, and discussion of ideas for product development, saving time and money, and streamlining procedures. These new-age intranets provide a powerful tool for collecting and sharing organizational knowledge, and FAQs that allows people across the organizations to answer customer/member questions. They also encourage communication between employees who normally might never get the opportunity to talk.
Human Resources. HR staff can use social media style intranets to team build, as well as share important information about benefits and HR policies. One of the biggest HR trends is using social media sites like LinkedIn, facebook, google plus, and twitter for recruiting new employees and learning more about potential hires. LinkedIn is particularly useful for networking with people in your industry who might connect you with your next great hires.
Taking social media to the next level can help you build community and reach goals across your organization. How are you using social media and seeing its impact throughout your organization to meet your goals?