You Can't Bury Your Head Deep Enough in the Sand
-or "In the Twitterverse everyone can hear your scream"
Whether your organisation has a social media strategy or not your people and your customers are out there using it to talk about your organisation. It could be someone complaining about their boss on Facebook It could be a dissatisfied customer complaining baout poor service. And it could be someone trying to tell you what makes you great.
I just did a search on Twitter for the first company I could think of. It happens to be a British high street retailer. Actually, since the comments were almost all positive I'll tell you it was W H Smiths.Now if I was in marketing with them there would would be a while load of conversations I could be opening up with people to build on that good basic vibe.
@WHSmith_UK follows 18 people and has tweeted 6 times. The last was in December.
@WHSmithLtf follows no one and has never tweeted.
Do I need to tell you about @WHSmithPLC, or can you guess?
OK that is a company, not an IT department, but you get the point.
Just because you aren't part of the conversation doesn't mean people aren't talking about you.
Now just do a quick Twitter search for "IT Department" and see what the ratio of negative to positive comments.Better still, try this Twitter search:
Another classic comes to mind here. @Patb0512 was waiting int he queue for breakfast at the Bellagio and tweeted an "observation" about the length of the wait and the probable quality of the breakfast if he ever got to eat it. The original tweet was quite amusing, but it was funnier still to see the Bellagio had a robot hard at work re-tweeting any tweets containing the hotels name, whether positive or critical. Incidentally based on Pat's tweet I didn't even bother joining the queue.
A word of caution here. What to one middle aged manager might appear a foolish approach to social media might actually be a very savvy approach as far as the target audience is concerned. For instance in the SDITS11 panel discussion someone joked how ludicrous it is that packets of Pampers diapers/nappies have a suggestion that you should follow @pampers. Yet why on earth is that ludicrous? Look at that Twitter account and you'll see a fair share of marketing messages, but you'll also see near real time interaction with customers, dealing with their real life problems. In fact what you see emerging is something @barclayrae described in that same panel session as "an authentic persona"
The Secret of Success is Sincerity - Once You Can Fake That You've Got it Made
- Jean Giraudoux
Personally I believe Barclay is spot on with his observation of how important projecting an authentic persona is, and also in going on to say that in the multi-threaded world of social media authenticity becomes hard to fake.Those organisations that use social media well recognize that, but it is a warning to IT departments with our tendency to hide behind technology.
In Part 3 I will finally get around to addressing specific ideas for the use of social media for ITSM, but for now let me leave you with
Finisters' Rules of Social Media.
- Listen to what users of social media are saying - but in conjunction with traditional means of marketing and communication
- Listening means reacting in a way that makes the customer feel they are being listened to. My personal pet hates are automated DMs* from Twitter accounts with thanking me for following them.
- Talking of DMs, consider when to respond privately and when to respond publicly
- Remember in social media land everything becomes public
- Despite what Meg Ryan told you, there are some things you can't fake
- Be aware of the difference between tweeting as a company and tweeting as an individual, but recognize that it is a soft boundary. Don't use a personal account to constantly promote your company, but don't hide the fact you have a commercial interest either.
- Use humor, but use it appropriately
- Remember the large part of your customer base that isn't currently using social media
- Use different tools for different jobs. What works on Facebook won't work on Twitter but...
- ...use different mediums in combination, so for instance use Twitter to promote a YouTube video
*DM - Direct Message - a tweet sent privately that only the recipient sees.