In the lead up to our social media for B2B companies product launch, we spent some time thinking about what the real impact would be if the subject of the hype really took off.
The private impact is patently obvious. My oldest son bought himself an electric guitar this summer but is unfortunately surrounded only by passive music fans. Even so, he taught himself the intro to Sex On Fire thanks to a kind British man who had posted an instructional video on YouTube. (I have since discovered that there are tens of thousands of guitar lessons on YouTube.) I couldn’t have imagined this thirty years ago, and I still find it difficult now. This social media has a fantastic impact on our lives and we will never be without it again.
And for companies? They have to be much more aware that they need to communicate with as broad a market as possible. Every member of staff is an ambassador and potential spokesperson. Some people seem to have forgotten this, though it has always been the case. After all, you’re being an ambassador for your company whenever anyone asks you, at a family gathering or at the bar, “What work do you do?” Whether you like it or not, or are good at it or not. People always talk to each other about work.
In many companies, this can make some people nervous, and for a long time companies have been successful at limiting and centralising communications about the company. But now bars have been replaced by blogs, Facebook and Twitter. The result: people are talking about their work even more. Not just with their acquaintances, friends and family, but also with complete strangers. You could get extremely anxious about this in your boardroom, but you can also look at it positively: supervise your ambassadors well and motivate them to communicate positively about their company. More and more companies are realising this.
Changing things in reality is a different kettle of fish. I am quite happy that I don’t have to work out a comprehensive communication policy for a large company listed on the stock exchange in this new context of openness, but I think they will find their own ways of opening up their channels of communication.