This week, I will be conducting an internal company-wide training on social media. It motivates me to reach out and help inspire others to learn (or at least quell fears) about social media. I am very excited to share this information with others who may not have been exposed to social media.
Grudgingly, I thank the media for providing me some obstacles to overcome in enabling people to benefit from social media. I will somewhat live-blog this entry this week on the progress of social media throughout the company detailing what challenges and questions come up from teams, and tips for ‘next time.’ I intend this entry for those who facilitate social media training.
For the masses to know:
Gary Vaynerchuk eases my inner depths of frustration on why the media fears social media (as he responds to the radio media mogul, Howard Stern). For many centuries, the media has enjoyed the luxury of controlling their messages, people and most importantly, people’s money. It was a literal equation, invest this money to get this much in return. Ages ago, if someone challenged your message, you engage in a battle of some kind until they secede. In days of cut-throat business, communication teams would often covertly slander competitors. Consumers saw this with “attack ads” on others which often left them sour from it. This process is very linear, predictable, constant communications and strategies.
Now, the media is losing grasp of the message. The message is in the hands of the people. When there is an earthquake, where does it break from? Not CNN, not the Associated Press, not FOX News. Twitter. Why? Twitter is at the hands of the people. The last large earthquake in CA, it was posted on Twitter six minutes earlier than the AP reported it. While six minutes may not be a lot of time, it is six minutes faster than those who don’t leverage social media. If they did; perhaps, they could be relevant for the under-30 demographic and the media business can be salvaged.
That’s why social media matters. It’s controlled by the people and the (mainstream) media and people don’t even know it. I hope by opening 135 more people to it, at least a few alpha social media characters rise. That’s really the benefit of social media. The problem I face is training a service, not a product. Social media not not a technology, it’s a culture shift. It’s very hard to turn people away from something they have been comfortable with for so long — traditional media. And that’s OK. I’m merely giving people an opportunity to be aware of it, acknowledge it and possibly leverage it if they haven’t done so already. They’re getting something I didn’t — an introduction to a cutting edge change on the Web — and that’s what is most satisfying.
For social media evangelists to know:
- SALES: When training the sales team, they love numbers. Social media by the numbers usually shocks them and can be enough to get them to take the value and concepts literally. For reference, I showed some stats on our FeedBurner subscriptions, the number of blogs, our Twitter follower count. Of note, the Sales team, in any company, are usually the most excitable ones because they naturally have high energy. While social media and “sales” don’t typically coexist, they can be a social media advocate’s best fans. Keep that in mind. They interact first with leads as they interact in our company. Oh, and sales people love Krispy Kreme donuts to start their day.
- MARKETING: I work in this team. Most of them hear me Twittering Tweets and slang social media rocks throughout the company. Marketing understands the importance of social media and wants to see more mechanical (process) oriented stuff. Marketing folks typically aren’t the geekiest, so a social media advocate has to bridge that gap and be careful not to lose them. Definitely received some resistance at the assertion that other mediums are dying (tv, radio, direct mail, fax, etc). To hold it in context, I recommend to point out that they can still be used today, but resources are best spent through the Web and supplemented with those other mediums. Oh, and be careful about digging into AM radio… some people still listen to it passionately… as an alternative, I suggest for them to listen to podcasts to follow personalities they hear on the AM dial. On a positive note, the marketing team responded well about the Motrin Mom incident, where community mob owned Motrin for an insulting ad, resulting in them being pulled from web, print, tv and radio ads, a [lame] public apology and the negative brand association. All from ONE ad, insulting the use of baby slings. In three hours.
- BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: These folks are the combination of sales and marketing and are focused on the growth of the business through partners. While there is a strong importance on the business’ brand, these folks personal brands need to be dialed in so they can connect with the right people. Their inner passion is to have industry insiders reach out to them instead of the C- or V-suite. These folks were on the edge of their seat for the best practices, tips, and want to build their personal brand. One word of caution, these folks feel empowered to jump into the deep-end of social media right away, be forward with them by explaining failures so they have objectivity in it. These folks are naturally risk takers, so it won’t scare them away from social media.
- CUSTOMER CONSULTANTS: This team is natually interested in the “domino” effect of social media. They responded well to the Motrin and the Vincent Ferrari incidents; connecting the importance of quality customer service and the need for stand in the customers’ shoes before making business decisions. Additionally, they are interested in the efficiencies through social media through empowerment, such as blogging support concerns, Tweeting and crowdsourcing.
- ADMIN, FINANCE, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANTS: Only a fraction of the administrative team attended, which probably mirrors their perception of the importance of social media. A future, longer-term planned training is due so they can comfortably attend training without daydreaming about work. The finance team was curious about social media and they really enjoy the use of RSS, the application of Podcasts, the value of social news on Tipd. Also, they know the importance of branding and reputation and really need to know mechanically how to do it. The Finance team also lit up when I explained the effects of consumer empowerment (like Ripoff Report and Consumerist).
- SYSTEMS & DEVELOPMENT TEAM: Because of the tech-savviness of the team, it made facilitating social media much easier. As expected, sharing a few tools to make it easier helped folks. A number of attendees were very interested in blogging, personal branding and have the urge to grow their ‘fanbase.’ The unfortunate circumstance for both the Dev and Customer Support teammates, is they feel overburdened as they are and really question the effeciency of social media. (Which is valid — I believe it’s an investment rather than an expense.)
In general, I learned to not try to pack too much into a deck on social media. Deep down, I know that I could have gotten away with 10 slides or less; I tend to have an addiction to being verbose with people. (It irks me when people are too ambiguous.) My deck was spent by slide 13 or so. I’ll think about slimming it down for larger audiences who attend. It is useful to send a targeted follow-up email to the attendees. Stories work, but aren’t the whole sale. People need to see the application of social media in order to fully trust it. (And that’s okay.) It’s a good idea (as a facilitator) to schedule later follow-up consultations, take the questions as “requests” and present it to them at a later date. This time, leverage social media when you deliver it.
Personal Rant: I want to rant on an observation that bothered me as I wrote this entry. I know my interest in social media is still exclusive. Deep down, it secretly bothers me that people don’t give a shit. Not just about social media, but about their passion. Many people still don’t follow their passion. It upsets me because I know how it feels. If someone said to do what you love, here’s how (…) wouldn’t you actually consider trying it? Assuming your WORK, your JOB advocated that you CAN be yourself and EXPRESS yourself, wouldn’t you? It’s not some trick. It’s not some hoax. And I’m not just some sales douchebag trying to force you to drink the Kool-Aid for my benefit. Social media is not new. It’s been around for a long time and now the tools are available to the masses to make it EASIER to communicate. Not more difficult. Yeah, I’m very passionate about social media but understand that I bury the needle on my ‘give a shit meter’.