Riddle me this readers: When it comes to social media, why are so many companies having such a hard time getting it right...?
Armed with budgets and ivy-league experts, why are more corporate blogs being laughed at rather than lauded? And why are blogs run by passionate individuals more popular than those run by full-on marketing departments?
Here's a hint: the answer is really easy.
Social media is tough for many of today's companies to wrap their high-level minds around because it's rooted in some rather simple principles -- and simple runs counterintuitive to business-wired brains. It's not their fault, really. In a world defined by pie charts, paradigms and revenue models, executives are programmed to make things, well, complex.
But blogging is an exercise in the basics. As I tell my clients, social media requires learning new tools as much as it necessitates revisiting old maxims. Said another way, social media draws less from practices taught in graduate school, far more from the lessons we learned in grammar school, namely:
Just be yourself. Lose the tie. Lose the script, too. Engage in a conversation with your readers rather than broadcasting a memo to the masses. Share compelling information but don't underestimate how compelling it is when you infuse your humanity and unique personality through your posts. This makes you accessible and enables your readers to connect with you. Let's face it, it's tough to connect with an excerpt of an annual report.
Share with others. We've entered the "share economy," an environment where open ideas and open-source have become the rule, not the exception. We admire thought leaders who generously share new methods and better practices, while we increasingly distrust those who closely guard information. In an open world, the more you give, the more you get back.
Play fair, too. There are no shortcuts (but everyone still wants one). Delegating your blog to an assistant or to a third party is like having someone do your homework for you. Nobody likes a cheat. Especially in an era of transparency.
Want friends? Then be one. In the blogosphere it's more like making friends than business contacts. Friends build a rapport. Friends are supportive, responsive. So it's not just about your blog, it's equally important to participate in and promote other blogs. Neither the world, nor the blogosphere, revolves just around you.
When you've done wrong, say you're sorry... and keep promises. Apologies are powerful, yet many companies equate an apology with weakness and go to great lengths to avoid admitting any wrongdoing. The thing is, an apology doesn't solely mean you're accepting fault, it's a promise to do better. Deliver on your promises and you'll win hearts and minds--and there's nothing weak in that proposition.
Ironically enough, these simple practices are yielding elaborate outcomes. Like product improvements, innovation and customer loyalty. In this medium, minding the essentials is how companies build interest, trust and relationships. These benefits present a pretty solid business case for getting back to the basics, eh? Indeed, sometimes the answer is just plain simple (which is why it's so hard to see).
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