Social Media Requires a Cultural Investment
Investment is a word that rules business decisions. How much do I need to invest? It’s a question I hear on a near daily basis.
So why is it that when it comes to social media, many focus on money and ignore the cultural investment?
Everything you do has a cost, whether it is monetary, time, or some other abstract resource. Social media although not the most expensive, requires a cultural evolution.
For many of the largest companies, a cultural investment can be greater than a monetary one. To change a business culture requires a form of dedication and collaboration rarely achieved.
But what exactly is a cultural investment? It would behoove us to answer this short yet not-so-simple question.
As businesses begin to shift their focus to the online world, so too must they shift their culture. This means creating a company that is nimble, lean, and efficient. Where these adjectives were goals for a business, they now are requirements.
A company must be able and willing to take risks, optimize campaigns, and work together efficiently.
Although an overly used example, Zappos embodies the idea of a web culture. Marketing, customer service, and product delivery all overlap. Each department works with an understanding that the ultimate goal is customer happiness and satisfaction. That this satisfaction will equate into returning and new customers.
Most businesses don’t achieve the success that Zappos has and for many it’s not even a possibility. Companies, especially luxury companies, tend to be too far on the spectrum to embrace the openness that the web requires.
Identifying where your business lies is the first step in evolving your identity. Using the above indicators can help you plot a course. The graph will not perfectly define every company, but it can act as a guide for most.
With an idea of the current overall culture and a goal in mind, an employee must take lead. Sadly, although the change must come from within, no single person can have both the drive and power to bring it to fruition.
The change, to have the most effect, must come from a group of individuals of power. Department heads and C-level executives can lead the charge, yet the revolution must be company wide.
For this to occur, social media and web culture needs to be sold to the company. It cannot be a policy demanded, it must be ingrained and incentivized.
For many, the first step is to identify employees, company-wide, that embrace the web culture.
Look for those that want to work together, share knowledge, and are leaders. Another group to include are employees that blog, have a Twitter or Facebook, or are active on social sites and forums.
These employees can be a jump-start and example for others. Create a task force that is comprised of employees from each department to identify ways to shift the company culture.
This task force should answer questions such as:
- “How can we better share information between departments and consumers?”
- “Is the company making the most out of each customer interaction?”
- “Has the business defined and identified an online brand strategy?”
- “What can be done to spur culture shifts?”
Answering the above questions should help create a plan and goal for the culture change.
Similar to almost any other, a cultural investment hurts profitability in the short-term but begins to show returns in the long run. The loss of productivity from employees as the transition occurs can be recouped as the new culture inspired collaboration and togetherness.
As the world becomes more Internet savvy and consumers evolve, business culture becomes more important. Consumers are looking to buy from companies we enjoy, those that they are connected to, and the businesses that make them feel special. It may not be a conscious decision, but it’s one that influences the buying process.
How are you investing in a culture that aligns with your consumers? Do you talk about company culture? Are you prepared for the transition?