3 Ways Communicators can Help Businesses Move the Needle Online

Regardless of who should own social media, it looks like marketers have a leg up. They have been experimenting more creatively in the space so far. The Old Spice campaign was the cherry on the top of a series of interesting experiments like the IKEA store opening and the P&G Tampons campaign. That is one way to go about things.

Many companies are still looking into social media from the sidelines, because frankly business people are still waiting for that other shoe to drop. Who can blame them? The cases when a business has advanced or grown its position in the market or has engaged stakeholders in any sustainable manner thanks to social are still rare.

Meanwhile, in many organizations social media is run by PR and communications groups. Can these groups get out of their own way or the executives' way of looking at them and contribute in significant ways? Spreading press releases online is not exactly the most exciting endeavor — especially for potential customers. When was the last time you bought or inquired about anything on the strength of a press release? Think about it.

Communicators can and must help businesses online. Increasingly, they must help reconcile the divide or gap between company shareholders and stakeholders, help the company muster its authentic voice — internally and externally — and deal with a different kind of crisis, that of confidence and trust.

Forget about blogs and editorial calendars, although those may be important and necessary. Here are three ways communicators can help businesses move the needle online:

(1.) find current fans of a brand and organize them or create a space for them to self organize

Who likes your company? Why do they like it? Finding evangelists and fans is only step one. Like with everything in life, you need to figure out what you do with the information. That's where the money is, in case you were wondering.

If you're a communicator, you're uniquely qualified to help organize those fans or help create a space for them to self organize.

(2.) listen and learn from negative sentiment and develop ways to help bridge problems

You're not monitoring only to find out when a crisis is imminent. The business you help support may have a lot of negative sentiment associated with its products or services for a reason or many. Do you have the integrity and the appetite for representing those sentiments and their causes to management?

You must. Communicators need to think about and represent stakeholders, not just shareholders.

(3.) create interest around something a business that is irrelevant in the social space shares with others

Say the business you're in is not really a very sexy business, one that would be a natural for people to want to talk about. They may still need your product or service, they just wouldn't build a fan page for it. What do you do?

Learn from groups with a cause to champion. Find something that many of the people who purchase your product or service have in common, something they are passionate about, and that ties back to your business. Then connect them.

Communicators need to start moving away from impressions and getting into the action. The tagline of this blog ends with "how talk can change our lives", it does, it will if you put your humanity behind it.

[image courtesy of wikipedia commons]

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0 responses to “3 Ways Communicators can Help Businesses Move the Needle Online”

  1. Very sound advice, as usual
    As a Baby Boomer and marketing professor for many years, I understand BOTH the reluctance by business people of my generation to accept the New Normal AS WELL AS the inevitability of the New, Better Way to Do Business, i.e. “People Doing Business with People” and making those connections online.
    Your second point particularly resonates with me and will be mentioned in my next post to be entitled “Listen . . . before you tell me what to do.”
    Too many businesses still don’t understand that it really is all about our customers and what they TELL us what they need. And they are doing this so very effectively online. We just need to listen.

  2. I like your candor, Shari. I’m glad the post resonated with you. Listening is hard when busy doing. It’s especially difficult for businesses that are not built around it. Listening requires a new infrastructure baked into the business.

  3. Item #2 is so important, Valeria.
    We’ve seen the “California Gold Rush” of companies jumping on Facebook and Twitter. We’ve seen them “do it wrong” (whether you like that phrase or not) by using social channels “the same old-fashioned way” — as one-way broadcasting of ad-like messages. And, in the best cases, we’re seeing companies engage and interact with customers…but still with a focus on making the immediate sale.
    What we haven’t seen much of (yes, there are SOME examples) is companies using what customers say online as intelligence for improving operations. Sure, some companies do it — but they’re very progressive compared to the majority of businesses.
    It takes a humble attitude to accept criticism as a window into your own weaknesses, and to use that feedback to create a new strength.

  4. Great Post! There are also a number of services out there that play the role of communicator and manage/grow a companies’ social media presence. Perhaps this a route companies who are still “sitting on the sidelines” should consider…

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