Social Media is a Culture, Not Just a Strategy
We all know the basic buzz words of social media, “Twitter Marketing, Facebook Strategy, Community Building”. The problem with these terms are they allude to an idea that once you build a strategy for these platforms, you’ll be able to fully leverage social media.
As much as people may disagree with me; I believe that before a company can fully use social media, there needs to be a cultural shift.
In my mind, a social media strategy is similar to a treasure map. Without a culture that wants nothing more than to find that treasure, the map is just a simple piece of paper.
What Kind of Culture
Because social media requires a dedication to customers, a culture that puts customer satisfaction ahead of everything else, is likely to successfully take advantage of online relationships.
Consider Zappos, who has made customer service their value proposition. They build a loyal consumer base and increase their word of mouth marketing with every positive interaction they have.
Another culture that does well is the culture of innovation. Innovative companies are willing to try new things and dedicate resources to attempts and ideas.
Web users love new, exciting, ideas. They reward companies that are the first to try something different. New marketing strategies are more likely to spread virally, rather than something that has been done already.
The final culture, can only be described as “down to earth”. This is an ideal that many brands seem to disregard.
To most online consumers, the attitude of corporations can be off-putting. Because of this many customers are unlike to relate to or build loyalty with the company.
Instead, an upfront, “we understand”, attitude can be a breath of fresh air to most consumers. This kind of culture can make a corporation more approachable and in the long run help retain life-long customers.
Consumers have shown to react well to humorous, fun, laid back cultures; especially when conveyed through social media. Aligning a corporate culture with that of what is expected by consumers is an important step before fully utilizing the power of online marketing.
Helping Shift the Culture
Rarely does a brand quickly go from a traditional marketing focus to one that is prepared for social media.
Instead, most brands will need to transition over time. To help the process, it’s important to find opportunities for cultural shifts.
One of the best ways to encourage a culture shift is by embracing it in a top-down fashion. A CEO that writes a blog or uses Twitter is likely to inspire employers to become more social as well.
Another place culture can be shifted is during the hiring process. Hiring new employees with the desired culture can build a cultural shift overtime.
The third way to change a corporate culture is through policy. Highlighting and rewarding employees exhibiting the new culture may convince others to follow suit.
However, policy shifts can be a delicate maneuver, and for many fails to bring about the cultural revolution without some sort of employee backlash.
In the end it doesn’t matter if you “understand” social media or have a great strategy. Without a corporate culture conducive to transparency, customer service, and good content; you’re destined to fail. Slowly building the culture while integrating social media may be the best idea for a majority of businesses.
What do you think? What kind of corporate cultures are likely to do well in social media? Do you disagree? Can a brand have successful social media without a cultural change?