Under Estimating Social Media’s Power and Influence…Bad Move

I’ve been socially aware for about 2 years now and I was late to the party. However, as late as I was there are even more people who are just now coming to terms with social media’s power and influence. For instance, LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional social media network, is really gaining momentum. I’ve seen an increase in my personal network from job seekers who are finally seeing and hearing tangible evidence that employers use LinkedIn. Message received.

In addition, companies are developing social media and mobile technology strategies to engage customers, increase awareness and drive up those profit margins. Smartphones, IPhones and tablets are mobile devices and companies are designing their websites, marketing and communications to take advantage of a more mobile-social global market.

From an organizational standpoint it’s so important to be aware of social networks and the activities that their employees and customers have access to. If you didn’t know, you cannot stop your employees from jumping online. Devices have their own internet access points therefore you can’t even shut down the network or block sites. Funny thing about control mechanisms, someone always finds a way around them.

The better play is to promote social integrity and responsibility throughout social communications but it starts with the leadership. If you tell your employees “don’t tweet!” guess what, they will tweet anyway. Twitter gives an immediate platform to anyone who signs up. That could be good and bad because, let’s face it, some people don’t need an audience or a microphone. Companies, however, should understand that anyone can tweet so they must be familiar with Facebook and Twitter to see what their customers – both internal and external are saying.

There are hundreds of examples: Diane Helms, a former ColdStone Creamery employee, took to Twitter after the United States Presidential election to make racist remarks about the President. Luckily ColdStone Creamery saw the tweets and acted swiftly, savaging their reputation within the community. Their customers were so happy that they organized an appreciation day through Facebook and they all went for ice cream on the same day.

Or how about your local police departments use Twitter and Facebook to alert the public regarding traffic accidents, scams, fires, Amber alerts and BOLO’s (be on the look-out) – not to be confused with YOLO (you only live once)- I digress.

Many companies have embarrassing social media stories, for example if you jump on Twitter right now and search the hashtags “DellSucks” or “DellLies” you will some amazing tweets about malfunctioning or broken DELL computers.

Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only sites out there. Retail companies should be aware of Yelp! and Gripe, as customers can use them to post reviews about service. Even with a name like Gripe you should only worry if you offer bad service. If you take your customer service seriously like say…uh well Chic-fila, you’ll be fine. Let’s not forget about the comment section on articles; that has become a real THING now-a-days.

Since the public has become more comfortable using social media they understand that they can voice a complaint online and receive quicker, better service than by placing a call or sending a letter.

Not paying attention social trends is not only embarrassing it could be a major failure in strategic planning. Just look at the last Presidential election; analysts have said that President Obama had a more sophisticated and deliberate social strategy which helped him to reach the more social voters.

JCPenny’s used Facebook and other social networks to increase their marketing by 23% just before and during the Olympics. They created a Facebook page and offered specials and discounts which work wonderfully. They also created a video with Ellen DeGeneres that went viral and had positive consumer reaction.

And if that’s not enough to convince you of the power and influence of social networking, the Pope has an official Twitter account. That’s right, the Pope is tweeting because, and I’m quoting the Vatican here “The Pope wants to reach out to everyone.” That just happened!

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