Strategic food for thought?

When initially studying organisations and the behaviour that makes them successful a few years ago, it was qualified that if you wanted competitive advantage, you had to harness your workforce to work towards a common goal. You needed a strategy, a vision which was implemented and at the core of competencies for all employees. You have to have ‘buy in’ from each employee and your leaders to sponsor this vision as an ongoing tactic without being a one time gimmick.

I thought, once an organisation had hooked on to the secret of instilling a specific culture as a point of success then there was nothing else to be done.

It seems though, the next level to competitive advantage, would be taking the organisations culture, and aiming it toward a social media strategy. Simply because this appears to be the way of the future, and how current and future generations will demand to deal with an organisation. It seems a very big task if you think about how much energy it would take to convince each person in your workplace as it is now, each with a differing level of tech savvy and comfort level with using social media technology.

To unite the organisation in its mission, the resounding theme from all academic writing I have read so far is to ensure the business objects are aligned. This makes sense, as it would be hard to achieve a common goal when departments in the organisations are trying to achieve their own departmental goals with their own separate means for doing so. In a write up by Weber in 2011, the how would be to combine the ‘smarts’ of the organisation on the whole, not just the executives, with a tool – an eForum. This would be responsible for many different aspects involved with engaging both the work force, and the target audience as an ongoing, and long term strategy.

You get the feel from the term ‘business objectives’ there is a little more structure to implementing ‘social media as a strategy’ than letting loose their tech savvy interns with any idea they see fit. There must be thought into the platforms, content, the interaction between the organisation and the audience, and the metrics to gauge the success (because a lot of organisations demand this idea of return on investment). Therefore the way in which social media is introduced as a strategy to the business would have to be in stages, as the maturity level of the organisation evolves. Inducting social media strategies into the business is very much an investment.

To help you picture the end goal, I will leave you with a quote which resonated with me from another of the articles I have read, by Li and Solis: “As a result of the cross-functional and executive support, social business strategies start to weave into the fabric of an evolving organisation”.

..Is this how our organisations are going to achieve that next level competitive advantage, or is it marketing fad hot for this moment?

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Lead on from “frameworks” post.. (mini entry)

After posting my last entry yesterday, very relevantly

I saw in Wellingtons ‘Dominion Post’ paper an article in the “ask the experts” section (B5), the query was on how to beat big businesses with budgets for big marketing, Laura Walters from Fair fax begins her answer by saying “Know thy customer”. She then follows on in a lower paragraph advising to take on lower cost, but very relevant streams of social media to advertise yourself, as the best lead is via word of mouth referral -she endorses bloggers, online media and targeted online advertising.Very common theme it seems!

Frameworks and Foundations for businesses and Social Media

This week I’ve been reading up on ‘4Cs’ and the ‘Functional Building Blocks’ which are key frameworks for businesses to use when thinking about social media. There are plenty of interesting reads on these, however you can Google them yourself. There are a few fancy acronyms, but this week I didn’t have to stop to wiki an idea or term that was new to me. 

While I did find valuable the discussion points centering on how to relate to people via social media on different levels and from different angles, the basic concept I took was to go back to your marketing drawing board. 

Marketing 101(?), I am sure will cover off the need for an organisation to understand its own community it wants to relate to. The familiar questions (using the speak of our less formal social media environments) are:

Who are your peeps?

Who do you want to be your peeps?

How do you want  your peeps to engage with you and relay back to their peeps about you?

It is running with the theme of participation and the using of which strategies which needs to be thought out if businesses are starting out with Social media and want to use it well. From a conceptual point of view, social media as a strategy for your business doesn’t have to seem so scary when you step it back (granted a lot of the barrier is the physical set up). Think about what enterprise/software will allow you to relate the way your business needs to be reflected – and as pointed out last post, get a someone who was born with a cellphone in their hand to set this up. 

Does your formal/informal, interactive/less interactive culture require platforms that will mostly facilitate Connection, or rather Cooperation, or rather Collaboration, or Connection?

How active do you need to be in terms of using functional ideas of: identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation and using groups… 

If you are wanting to know more about these little gems, I recommend googling “Cook” for the cluster of ‘C’ ideas, and “Kietzmann” with regard to the functional building blocks. 

Let me know if you think I do need more elaboration on our handy frameworks and tools businesses can leverage.

 

 

Tuning us in

Admittedly my understanding of the technical points of technology and how web pages work is quite limited, though apparently there is more effort to web page layouts than at first thought.

What I hadn’t consciously thought of before was that for leisure browsing, a web or social media page must stand out and display aesthetically pleasing content, and then also be able to offer intuitive manoeuvrability or I am a click away to something else that potentially captures my eye and attention (shallow much?). This is where technology and information architecture come into play.

I am now informed, with thanks to a text book on ‘The Anatomy of an Information Architecture’ (by Morville and Rosenfield if you want to get into the guts of it), that there are many quiet tricks inserted into the current web that falls into the scope of Information Architecture. Components include the humble every day search engine, groupings and navigation systems, and whether the site can be compacted to be viewed from mobile technology etc. When I think about it, the pages I usually browse through allow me to be informed of what others in my social circles are doing, purchasing or sharing. I can search for nearby friends or places to visit via location based technology, and interlinking social media sites.

 I have also learned when considering information architecture it is worth thinking wider than just where on the page to place the site menu, you need to think holistically such as:

  • Who is the intended target user (audience),
  • How to decorate (lay out) and:
  • What content to include.

When considering the above:

  • What integration links to do you include, e.g. will Facebook hold the desired audience?
  • Does the layout satisfy the craving for easy viewing, and;
  • Does the page hold what is relevant for the intended audience.

How is that for effort!  

It’s a bit cunning using these subliminal techniques to draw the user into the page and keep them attracted. Followers will come back because they liked the content, want to be kept up to date, and/or found some sort of affinity with the organisation through the site (take note businesses). Organisations will need to utilise the technology we have today and keep abreast of the up and coming technology to turn visitors into their followers, I know it takes a lot to keep my attention.

Interesting thought, how will technology be able to raise the bar from this point…

Skipping through the stages

Logically the first step of my endeavour would be to understand the concepts of this ‘Web 2.0’ and Social Media, to see how (if they do) intertwine. Here is the brief download of my understanding on where the web has come from and perhaps going to… if I can.

 In the early 90’s the World Wide Web was introduced, coined ‘Web 1.0’. As you’d expect from a term deemed a one point 0’ there was to be a next revolution. To skip a paragraph explaining  Web 1.0 as a “one way” and “read only” era (thank you Wikipedia), we are currently living in the stages where we now have this ‘Web 2.0’ concept and crossing over into the next stage (and more on this in a bit). This progression saw the web transform by taking what was initially designed as a means to disseminate information, to this interactive space; allowing users to liaise with those information providers, share their own media and increase networking and collaboration. You don’t have to search long to see like audiences congregating, able to share their thoughts and experiences over many different social media channels made possible by this concept of an interactive cyber world. Facebook, Twitter, Weblogs are a few widely recognised examples of these channels.

As far as businesses are concerned, there are vast possibilities, and also difficulties to determine how best to tap into the awareness of their desired audiences to interact with. The detriment is with the organisations approaching social media in the wrong way. The ability to harness a global audience, target specific demographics and create brand awareness via social media is fast becoming no longer a competitive advantage, but a new norm. However, organisations participating in the social media space open the brand up to reputation risk if the campaign isn’t successful in coming across as genuine or receive negative feedback which can become quickly viral.

Social media has given a very vocal voice to these ‘users’ which is why it is hard to discern who is shaping the coming ‘Web 3.0’, what is the next step these users are hungry for. Ever increasing technology and the fervent demand of the users will be forcing the next stage of the World Wide Web, driven by the utilisation of social media. Hints as to the next ‘release’ of the Web will look to include so called intelligent software able to interpret the user activity and preferences to deliver to the user the information they want, before they ask for it. I wonder personally if this is what people actually want..?

First (ever) blog post!

I am attempting to introduce the world of social media and the concept of Web 2.0 to my ‘bubble’. I have been very elective about which social media sites I have participated, mainly just the social networking so far.  So, as I am looking into social media networks in the business world I will be tracking my endeavours to understand the possibilities and importance of online social networking as a chosen channel for businesses to communicate.

Please feel free to assist me with my learnings each week, you can post feedback which might support my thinking, challenge my thinking, or even bring to my attention a point I might have missed ~ either way, happy reading!