Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What is your heart made of?

Let me take you to a hopefully entirely hypothetical place.

Some giant computer virus has managed to do the unthinkable. It has wiped out Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, all of the sites that have been the darlings of marketers for the last few years.

You go in to work. The show must go on.

What do you do?

Where is your compass?

If the essence of your company has remained unchanged in the face of perpetual change, the answer to this question should not be difficult. In fact, the presence or destruction of the entire Social Media world should not inexorably alter how you interact with your clients or customers. It should not alter your company's mission statement or philosophy.

Think about Zappos (it's hard not to these days). Granted, they are getting a lot of buzz via Social Media, but do you think the entire heart of the company would crumble if they couldn't tweet anymore? Social Media is not the way to happiness there. Taking care of customers is.

Are you resting the entire future of your company on this new networked revolution? Have you taken key words like "Listenomics" to heart to the point where little else is left?

Take a company EKG

Here's an idea to try. Sit everyone down (or just sit down yourself) and tell them that you need a short write-up that will be your profile description on your company's Facebook page. If you have a solid company mission and soul, the descriptions should be pretty close. There should be similar verbiage there. Here is what we do. Here is why we do it.

If you have your corporate heart intact, Social Media can certainly accentuate your positives. You know what keywords are important to you, so you'll be able to optimize for them in sites like Facebook and Twitter. People will be able to find you easier. You'll use the same language across all of your Social Media accounts, so your brand will become more familiar to people regardless of what site they are using. There won't be a disconnect between reaching your company online or reaching your company by phone.

On the other hand, if this exercise explodes in your face, my recommendation would be to back away from Social Media until you get sorted out. You see, Social Media is kind of like a mirror. If you are together and on message, it will reflect positivity back to you. However, if your message is muddled, Social Media can not only fail to benefit you, but it can also become a corporate nightmare. Questions that are key to using Social Media, like "what is the voice of our company?" will be a mystery to you. Branding your company in Social Media will be well-nigh impossible if you don't know what your brand is or means.

Social Media is like a Siren. Beware!

Social Media and all that goes with it can certainly seem very compelling. "Everyone's doing it!" "You must do this now or your company will fry!" To some extent, these whispers could be true. If a competitor is on a Social Media site where you are not, they have free range. But is this really anything new?

If a competitor advertises in a magazine that you aren't advertising in, they have free range over that audience.

If a competitor has a radio spot and you do not, they are the only voice that audience will hear.

It's really not that revolutionary. In the past, you would look at a publication or a radio station or a newspaper and analyze it. "Is this for me? Is this worth my money and time?" You had your company goals in mind, most likely. Your mission statement. Your brand.

Social Media can suck you in with promises of treasures untold, but like a siren, it can also be very dangerous, especially if you aren't prepared. A single careless exchange can spell doom. Are you prepared for that kind of instant karma?

Like the heroes of old, before you venture forth into the wild frontier, you need to know who you are. You need to know what you stand for, what you are trying to accomplish, what the perils are, and what you are hoping to achieve. You need to have a compass. You need to know what your heart is made of.

I'm not saying don't do Social Media. I'm just saying that if you know what your company's heart is made of, you can survive when the new hot thing goes down. If you don't know what your company's heart is made of, you will crumble with whatever you tie yourself to. Beware. Be careful.

Image by Cecile Graat.


Suzanne Vara said...

Absolutely fantastic article. The tie back to trad adv does get you to think as having placed media for clients we did go through exactly what you say here and when determining if they "need" to be engaging on a certain platform, we go through the same exercise. But, never thought of it in the way that you have mentioned here.

Great stuff Marjorie!

Real Life Mad Man said...

Thanks for your support, as always :)