As social media like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube grow increasingly popular managers want to engage more strategically in the space with their employees and customers. Yet, social media is a little frightening to traditional managers accustomed to "controlling the messages" associated with their business. They are used to creating and honing the message and then deciding who will receive it and when. An exchange of ideas or opinions is not part of that process. Now, people expect two-way communication (talking and listening on both sides). They talk about products, services, and businesses whenever and wherever they like - they can praise or chastise, sometimes both in the same message.
Social media might be used by employees to:
- Improve customer service
- Recruit and retain customers
- Build brand awareness and loyalty
- Encourage collaboration
- Generate good public relations
- Facilitate networking
- Share information and invite exchange
Forrester Research has developed a social technology profile tool with content from the book Groundswell (Harvard Business School Press, 2008) by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li. With it, a company can profile social media behaviors by selecting the age, country, and gender of its customers. Once selected, the tool segments consumers into six different categories of social media participation, depicted in the ladder below. The rungs at the higher end of the ladder indicate a higher level of participation.
Groundswell Profile Tool
Source of graphic: Li, Charlene, “Forrester’s new Social Technographics report,” April 27, 2007, (http://forrester.typepad.com/groundswell/2007/04/forresters_new_.html)
How should managers encourage employees to use social media? Where are you on the ladder of social media participation? How can you increase your rate of participation? Should you?