The Times, They Are A-Changin’ – the organisational love/hate relationship with social media

Recently I watched a video of O2’s Ronan Dunne talking about how he, as a CEO, joined Twitter and why it’s now so important to his company’s relationship with customers. It raises some interesting questions around when and where it’s appropriate to use social media in an organisation and is it worth C-level staff joining in? Certainly STC Associates CEO Sophie Ann Terrisse thinks so – she’s written this great blog post about ‘14 Ways A CEO Can Benefit From Social Media’. It’s worth a read and certainly adds fuel to the fire to the ‘for’ argument.

Bob Dylan once sang ‘Times They Are A-Changing’ and that line can be applied to the way brands are viewed in today’s digital age. Gone is the control a company once had over how people perceived them. I recently heard the phrase “customers are developing faster than brands” (courtesy of Social Bakers) at a conference - so if organisations are losing direct control of their brand in the digital sphere, they at least need to still be a meaningful part of the conversation.

The same can be applied to the workplace - as Microsoft’s Dave Coplin mentions in his recent RSA Keynote speech about BYOD at work - employee demand to use mobile devices in the workplace is increasing and along with it, the advent of social platforms for work and personal use will also rise tenfold. In fact, here’s a great article about workers demanding social media rights! Meanwhile, Yammer have released a video showing how their platform can transform internal communication.

With a dedicated strategy, a target audience in mind (who are proven social media users) and knowledgeable staff, social media can really work for you. With a good content strategy and an effort to engage with your potential Twitter followers you will find followers and interaction will increase.

Certainly social media is revolutionary. And for the sake of the argument, let’s take Twitter as a prime example. Twitter is massive and alongside Facebook, it is perceived as one of the best ways for organisations to access new and current customers. New social media strategies are popping up left right and centre – but when should an organisation really use social media? If you are keen to do so, then choose your social platforms carefully – is Facebook really where your audience are? Or would just using Twitter and your own website be the best place to concentrate efforts?

And so, similar things apply to senior staff within an organisation. Are you joining a social media platform because you think you need to (but not sure what you’re going to do with it) or are you enthusiastic about the rewards of a well maintained Twitter feed and enthusiastic followers? As Ronan suggests in his video– one of the main factors in him joining Twitter was that a lot of his staff are also using it. Therefore it becomes a great way of engaging people away from more traditional route of staff newsletters and lengthy emails. These followers could be fellow staff, customers or peers… your potential audience is pretty limitless.