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08/31/2010 Social Sinatra

I read a blog post by Mack Collier the other day that got me thinking. His post pointed out that having a social strategy and execution plan, while good, isn't enough. The post outlines a few bad backlash examples that resulted in companies not acting socially (or acting socially too late).

While you can help a company DO things in social media, can you help or train them to act socially? Can you help them BE social? It reminds me of the old joke:

Descartes: To Do is to Be
Sartre: To Be is to Do
Sinatra: DoBeDoBeDo

I'm with Sinatra this time, as it relates to social media. Here's why:

Some companies with a social strategy and execution end up worrying endlessly about follower counts, editorial calendars and metrics dashboards. Don't get me wrong; all of those are good things to pay attention to. The challenge is that having social checklists and Doing things doesn't always get companies what they want: loyal and engaged customers. That's because, ultimately, people want to engage socially with other people, not editorial calendars or timed tweets.

Acting socially isn't overly difficult for real people. It's doing all those things our parents and teachers tried to teach us when we were growing up. Things like:

  • Pay attention and listen to what other people are saying
  • Be polite, but stand up for what you believe
  • Say something nice
  • Don't just stand there; do something!
  • And, act toward others the way you'd like people to act toward you

The problem is that most organizations don't act that way. Even if the Supreme Court thinks corporations are individual people, I don't. So how do you help companies BE social?

I'll go back to my favorite quote of the year: You can't change beliefs, but you can change behavior.

Start by helping the groups responsible for social within a company to act socially internally. Help them set up systems and processes for listening to each other, and to listen to their fellow employees. Whether your doing this through regular meetings or virtual workspaces, it's not a difficult task to accomplish.

Make sure they spend lots of time listening and connecting with customer service people, who actually spend their day talking with real customers! I know; it's an amazing concept, but you can't be social without your customers.

Help different groups (or one group) figure out what they really stand for. I don't mean profits and business growth, I mean help them figure out what they can provide that actually helps other people. This is a great exercise and if done correctly gives your social Being a raison d'àtre (nod to Sartre).

Practice your niceness by highlighting employees who've gone above and beyond. It's a little easier to be nice to people you know. So start with email shout outs, or something that shows the company that it's a good thing to spread the love. Moving this over to social and customers will feel natural after this.

Finally, have each employee keep track of every time they've helped either another employee or customer. I don't know if you can teach helping, but you can make people aware of when they are, or are not, doing it. The whole point is to get people thinking: when in doubt, help someone. When you can translate that into your social media being, you win.

If companies can start acting that way internally, and then bring that to social media, they will BE social. They will treat their customers and other people in a way they hope to be treated themselves by other companies. Most importantly, they will act as people, working for a company, rather than as a company, staffed by people.

And that's social.



Screen shot 2010-08-31 at 4.09.45 AM



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