As Brendan Hughes mentioned in the previous post, the IIA Social Media Working Group welcomed input from Neville Hobson this week at an open meeting. I live tweeted some of the meeting but unfortunately the free wifi in the Digital Depot where we held the meeting broke down – bad timing or what! One of the things I love about live tweeting on a purely selfish level is that it gives me a chronological re-cap of the event that I am attending so excuse me if the following bounces about a bit.
We had asked Neville to join us to talk to us about his experience of the business case for Social Media. Neville provided some insight into how some of the larger corporations that he is working with are embracing customer engagement by using social media and discussed that what they might lose in control they gain in new and more engaged stakeholders and customers. Neville said that it’s a given that social media is going to disrupt and businesses will have to change the way they work but that understanding this change relates more to understanding societal behavioural change in general. This point is echoed in a book I recently finished that was lent to me by John Beck, the director of one of our member companies, PillarProjects. The book was called Good to Great by Jim Collins and examined how a number of companies achieved sustained greatness. It included the concept which Collins called the Hedgehog Concept which suggested (put extremely simply!) that the great companies that his team examined had a core concept for the companies from which they did not stray. If one agrees with this one might ask why would one change one’s approach to communications and customer relations? However, I believe that a company with a strong Hedgehog Concept will easily take on the added challenges and benefit from the opportunites that social media offers because of the very strength of their core concept. A great company which is made up of great people will easily be able to engage and involve all their customers in their work.
Another great practical aspect of the afternoon that we hope to use for future open meetings of the Social Media Working Group was the addition of OnlineMeetingRooms.com. This doubled the attendees at the event and we had seven from Clonmel, two from Kildare, and one each from Dublin Southside, South Tipperary County Council, Limerick, Greystones and Munich!
I posed a question which many of the people I meet and talk to on the phone ask me: how to make time to use social media, how to know what is a good use of that resource in relation to it. And here I am breaking my own rule writing this post at 7.44pm on a Friday evening. Sad or what!? Like many who make a living out of their knowledge of social media and have the time to blog every day, Neville didn’t really have a straight up and down answer for this except that the whole discussion answered that question. He talked about CEOs who blog in their own voices and the value they place on that and indeed the value which is placed on it. He talked about social media tools allow him to use his time more effectively and (gratifyingly for me as I am writing the chapter on RSS for the SMWG’s guide to Social Media) he said, “RSS is the best thing ever invented!”
To finish he was asked what kind of goals could be set in relation to social media for a business to which he replied that businesses shouldn’t get hung up on return on investment (ROI), the goals are softer than that but you could look at things like Technorati authority which is based on linking, set realistic comparisons with the ROI on other marketing, subscriptions to RSS feed, citations or links, tools like StatCounter or Google Analytics could be used, your own comments and comments on your blog etc. could be evaluated.
Regular readers of this blog might be thinking “Good Lord, Roseanne, please get off your Social Media Hobby Horse!” and obviously I have a certain bias as I’ve been blogging since 2003. But one point that Neville made, with which I agree heartily and I noticed there was a lot of head nodding in the room, was that currently we make a distinction between the web and social media; soon we will not make that distinction. All media, even traditional media, will be social, in the new sense, in the not too distant future. Anyone who thinks it is not social already doesn’t understand how people interact with information. Your business is being discussed online AND offline, make sure you are part of the conversation.
Thanks to all in the SMWG who came along and also to Campbell Scott, IGoPeople.com, Damien Mulley, Emily Tully, Eoin Kennedy, Slattery Communications, Eoin from Bord Gáis, and the students from Tipperary Institute, our online attendees and anyone who I’ve left out!
To finish off I’ll share this slideshow I found today with you. It gives the lowdown on social media in a no nonsense way. Please excuse the title: relax it’s Friday and apart from the expletives this is very well put!
(Found on MediaThink)
Edit: Brendan Hughes, chair of the Social Media Working Group, has written a series of blog posts encapsulating his thoughts that arose from the Open Meeting. You can start with Part 1: Context.
Also Eoin Kennedy has since written a post on his thoughts on the above open meeting. As he works in Slattery Communications Eoin focusses on the public relations and communications opportunities that exist in social media. He obliquely makes a good point that PR company are content generators.