Just a few years ago, to be great at social media, you had to master the tools and the applications. Today, that doesn’t cut it. I explained this in more personal detail about the reality of “social media helpdesks.” I break these out into two key points to think about: social currency and business currency.
Social currency is still young and fairly measurable. Examples of this would be public mentions and syndication and even organic reviews. Even today, these are still relevant, but in many instances, it has no context or a grounded business purpose.
Business currency is very black and white when it comes to measurement. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but examples of it include revenue, expenses, customer lifetime value, etc. Business currency without social benefit severely limits the social cause of it.
The social-business divide isn’t that wide – all it takes a little critical thinking and bit more rationalization to find business motives fueled by a social footprint. It wasn’t harmful that we didn’t nail it correctly over the past few years. It was the age of discovery.
Web 1.0 connected documents and data; Web 2.0 connects people and relationships. That’s about the last time I’ll use a versioned reference to the web, but it makes sense. If you consider today and the path we’re headed… Web 2.0 has evolved to context – intent and sentiment. It’s more than information that we (as web users) seek; we want quality, trust and reliability.
Some purists feel dirty when there are numbers involved. I’ll be honest and divulge that comes from a mindset of fear. Specifically, fear for not producing favorable results, fear of upsetting their content-hungry audience, fear of not doing it right. I’ve also encountered that for the latter two fears, your community who trusts you will afford you opportunity for advertisements.
Not gleaning meaningful business value from your community strategy spells death to your community. Yes, death. Business value derives from intent – if community listening or empowerment isn’t in the game plan, then there is absolutely no use in starting (or prolonging) a community and the business will almost always overrules social causes. However, just as deadly this reality is, it’s incredibly powerful.
Prioritizing your needs, users, expectations and content is where you start. Priority is key. Building it for everyone means you’re building it for no one. Given the alignment to the business goals and intent, community can become a sustainable, high-ROI investment for the business.
And just like any ecosystem, communities evolve. No longer do people feel the need to register for communities; they have their own communities (e.g., Facebook and Twitter). The types of interactions and engagement evolves along with the business intent.
If you market yourself as a social media consultant, practitioner, expert, strategist or otherwise teaching it to others, this should be one unified goal we ought to strive for:
If you have adoption, you have the business embracing the social web to drive business results. Assuming measurable and a well-planned strategy are adopted, everything else falls right in line.
Don’t focus on the specific toolset or application – that will change and you’ll go nowhere fast if you specialize in those. Nevertheless, if you can connect the business units to tap into community and provide the guidance to help them nurture it for long-term sustainability. And that’s a win for you, the business and their customers.
Here’s a recorded webinar with Bill Johnston from Dell. He talks though the community strategy and operations for Dell. I thought it’s a perfect starting point for assessing your next community strategy. Trust me, it’s more than Twitter.
[Image credit: marc_smith]