Using Social Media to be More Human

Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 9 december 2008

Charlene Li, co-author of Groundswell – Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies and founder of Altimeter Group was recently invited to speak at Google.  Her discussion centered around leveraging the influence of social media from the perspective of corporations.  Throughout her presentation, she offers a number of insights, tying them to real world examples of companies that are utilizing these technologies to connect with their customers in meaningful ways.

She explains that businesses need to focus on developing relationships, the goal being to create a conversation with consumers as opposed to simply delivering a message.  The first step in accomplishing this is being able to step back and listen, the only way a brand can truly know their audience and develop an appropriate strategy that speaks directly to them.

In Li’s view, the most successful tactics are those that align themselves with the foundational goals of corporate strategy – how resources can best be utilized in the areas of production, finance, research and development, personnel, and marketing to reach specific markers – by asking the question, “how can social media be most effective in attaining these objectives?” In this way, companies can use the very same metrics they would to measure a traditional marketing plan’s success – through net promoter scores and lifetime value models – but in a new context, where data is arguably easier to extract.

As we look towards the future, Li believes that corporations will slowly get more comfortable with the idea of relinquishing control of these spaces, allowing for a more open exchange of information that shifts from the standard paradigm of “us vs. them” to a the more permeable mindset of “we,” both for the dynamic of customers/businesses and internal to an organization as well.  This framework requires that businesses become more nimble, reacting more quickly and learning from their mistakes and triumphs.

The bottom line appears to be that the more a brand can use the social technologies at their disposal to appear like an actual human being, the more successful they will be, until the public starts questioning the authenticity that is.


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