When Social Media Meets Social Intranet Part 2

Continued from When Social Media Meets Social Intranet Part 1

How Social Media Delivers Value
Social media can deliver many values to organisations. But the two main values are: (1) An effective platform for PR 2.0; (2) A platform to emotionally connect with the customers.

I’m sure you can agree with me that capability to effectively use social media is no longer a choice, because today’s customers are the most difficult customers ever! Today’s customers are citizen journalists – which means customers can voice out their displeasure through social media like blog posts, Facebook posts, or Twitter.

How many of you have heard of a gentleman by the name of Jeff Jarvis? He is a prominent tech blogger who in 2005, wrote a blog post titled: “Dell lies. Dell Sucks.” In the blog post, Jarvis ranted about how poor Dell customer service was, and the blog post attracted over 100 “Me Too” comments. Imagine a simple blog post gets multiplied 100 times.

The Need for Social Media Policy
The first step to ensure that social media delivers value, is to put social media policies in place. The right policies can help to protect the organisation’s reputation from misuse of the social media by the employee.

Let me give you two examples. First, Ashley Payne – a school teacher in the US – was sacked by the school because she posted a photo of herself drinking alcohol in her Facebook. Ashley Payne sued the school for unfair dismissal.

Second, in Singapore context, Straits Times was in hot water recently because a disgruntled employee tweeted profanity using their corporate Twitter account. Regardless of your opinion about the two cases, you don’t want a lawsuit filed against your organisation or your employees abuse the corporate social media account.

Creating social media policy is fast becoming a necessity for organisations. According to research, 47% of Facebook walls contain profanity, but should employers give a darn?

Yes! Absolutely. Because a simple social media policy is often sufficient to prevent the misuse of corporate social media account. Take for example: Ford who came out with a simple social media policy that says: “Play Nice, Be Honest.” But my favorite is Oracle’s social media policy that says: “Employees must establish that all opinions are their own and not Oracle’s, but at the same time, distinguish that they are indeed employees of Oracle.” It’s my favorite because it covers all angle, Singapore’s style.

Let’s return to how social media delivers value.

1. An Effective Platform for PR 2.0
Social media is an effective platform for PR 2.0. Facebook can be used to serve as the corporate magazine to update customers on the latest happenings in the organisation like what Zappos did on their corporate Facebook. Twitter can be used as a broadcasting tool to update customers on the latest products / promotions like what Starbucks did on their corporate Twitter. And Youtube can be used to serve as a repository for corporate videos to convince customers that the product/service is indeed the best out there, just like what Popeye Chicken did on their youtube account.

Furthermore, social media can be used as a means to showcase social proof. For example, Sony used Pinterest as a digital brochure that can showcase the number of likes that a product/service received. The number of likes is a social proof that some customers out there like the product/service.

2. A Platform to Emotionally Connect with the Customers
Social media can also be used as a platform to emotionally connect with the customers. What do I mean by connecting emotionally? A product/service is more than just what it is. A product/service means a tool to improve the standard of living of your customers, i.e. a way to make them happy. Connecting emotionally means highlighting the story behind a product/service, on how a product/service makes the customer happy.

Here are two stories to highlight this point: (1) University of Phoenix tells stories in Youtube about how online degrees improve the standard of living of their students; (2) Tom Shoes tells stories, using a corporate blog, about how the company helps disadvantaged children, in developing world, who have no shoes.

But no matter how well-crafted the social media policy is, and how good the creative content is, social media can still backfires as what McDonald and Nestle found out recently. McDonald’s Twitter campaign to collect positive stories backfires when it was swarmed by negative stories about McDonald’s product. While Nestle’s Facebook campaign backfires when a group of environmentalists posted modified logo of Nestle’s products. It got worse when Nestle staff tried to stop them from doing so.

So what can we do to prevent a social media campaign to turn against what it is intended to be?

Well, first things first, the organisation has to let go of control. There is no method or procedure that can 100% guarantee the success of a social media campaign. The next best thing your organisation can do is to use more of its internal knowledge (i.e. collective intelligence).

Let’s go back on McDonald and Nestle’s case. McDonald could have done better if they test their assumption internally, by conducting a mock internal campaign for example. While Nestle could have done better by testing the replies internally before posting them on their Facebook page. Nestle is so big – some of its staff could be environmentalists and could craft a better response.

So the use of Social Media has to be supported by Social Intranet, because Social Intranet provides a safe haven for testing ideas/assumptions within the organisation. But what is Social Intranet, really? Let’s discuss it in the next blog post.

This blog post is part 2 of When Social Media Meets Social Intranet. Here are the links to all blog post:

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