The data overflow . . .

‘We stand on the precipice of a paradigm shift into a fully connected society.   We must not be afraid to embrace change.   Those who can manage this will survive; those who don’t will perish.’   United States student, age 30[1]

The data overflow has created an open culture both inside and outside the working environment.[2]

People today are embracing the social media medium for the purpose of creating an open culture that allows free and unhindered connectivity with customers, employees and with business partners.

Today, we certainly have that capacity to have a free exchange of information between the service provider and the customer.   And this exchange is building opportunities through the innovation it creates.

First and foremost, the service provider can have a clearer understanding of what the customer wants.   They can have a first hand understanding of their needs and requirements and the social connectivity allows the service provider to respond quickly to the feedback received from their customers.   In most circumstances, this feedback is happening in real time.   The finger is squarely on the customer’s pulse and never have we been better placed to measure its throb.

It is my prediction that in the next two to five years, social media will be the preferred engagement tool with our customers.   Whilst technology is the force behind the rising engagement in the social corridors, I believe it is our preparedness and willingness for greater openness that will be the driving force behind our social engagement.  This force will ultimately bring about imminent change to B2B and B2C engagement in a short period of time.   The overall effect on the ROI for social engagement will be significant for those who invest early.

Take a look at these facts to get a quick understanding of where things currently sit within the swell of the digital environment:

  • Peer-to-peer trust is on the rise in Australia[3].   This is happening at a time where there has been a massive trust slide across the globe.   This statistic places a focus on the immediate need to build trust with many customers given that people now trust the recommendations of their peers before embracing the marketing message of a brand.  And this peer-to-peer trust is being fostered in the social arena.   If your business is not playing in that arena, then you are not involved in the social conversation, which makes you part of yesterday; irrelevant, and one step removed from the action.   So get busy being a part of the present, and don’t turn up tomorrow on the wrong side of history.
  • $900 billion – $1.3 trillion is the annual revenue that could be unlocked by social technologies.[4]  This figure will only grow in the next 2 – 5 years and is probably already out of date for being on the low side of the spectrum.
  • Facebook users have more close relationships.   A Facebook user using Facebook several times per day have more close, core ties in their overall social network compared with other internet users[5].
  • Facebook users get more social support than other users.   This additional boost that Facebook users receive is the equivalent to about the total support that the average American receives as a result of being married or cohabitating with a partner.[6]

The evidence is overwhelmingly clear.   People are establishing strong relationships through their social play.   The above statistics support the fact that it is important to be in the same sand pit playing with the same toys with people who are willing to share, engage and collaborate with your unique offering.  No longer can you afford to be that organisation content to be on the other side of the sand pit fence. To do so will make you a spectator and not a player.

At its very core, our social play provides for far greater collaboration and engagement.   The by-product of our engagement is greater transparency at every level of the organisation.

Greater transparency heightens employee enthusiasm around their ability to share ideas and opinions on the basis that they can easily tie these ideas back to the needs of the customers and the mantra of the organisation.

In short, and this is not rocket science (but based on a conversation I had yesterday with a very experienced Chairman, it just may be something that should be regarded as rocket science), employees must be seen as the organisation’s greatest advocates.  They are the very individuals that have the capacity to add to the pitch and value proposition of the organisation.   They need to believe in the external pitch that is delivered to the customer on a daily basis.

It is critical to allow employees to play a serious role in the new ‘open culture’ of the work place.   Employees are fast to respond to customer inquiries, have the ear of the customer in most circumstances, share a real desire to share ideas quickly and freely and have this burning ambition to work in an environment that is progressive and up to date with happenings in the Social Era.

There must be a seamless connection between those messages buzzing internally within the organisation and those messages being broadcast to the customer base.   Any discrepancy will only serve to hurt and frustrate the brand of the organisation.   This frustration will only exacerbate the trust gap at both a customer and employee level and you will be giving competitors a free kick when they don’t deserve it.   Make sure your employees are singing from the hymnbook that has been tailored for your unique brand and offering.   If they aren’t, then quickly realign those segments of your business to ensure that all staff become your greatest advocates.

So, what is the message?  Well it is simple really, and it is premised on the following points:

  • There is a pressing need to review the openness of your organisation; to check the internal message and to compare it to the message being broadcasted to the customer.   They must be in complete alignment to avoid marketplace confusion.
  • You must accept that the social play is a big ticket item.   To ignore it will spell disaster in the long term for your organisation. Steps must be taken to embrace it today.
  • You urgently need to review the rules that you have wrapped around your social media play.   Are you empowering your staff to play in this space or are you running a containment policy, which only seeks to restrict your daily entanglement with your customers?   A containment policy only serves to frustrate the organisation’s innovation and collaboration amongst its key stakeholders and it compromises any effort undertaken to achieve an open culture.

ClickOnSocial looks forward to entangling with your brand within the social arena.   Send us a shout out when you have arrived!

[1] Connected Generation, Perspectives from tomorrow’s leaders in a digital world – Insights from the 2012 IBM Global Study by Anthony Marshall and Christine Kinser

[2] This data flow is a precipice that all organisations, employers and employees need to ascend with great haste to seize the advantage that the management of this flow brings to all stakeholders inside and outside the organisation.

[3] Edelman Trust Barometer 2012

[4] McKinsey & Company July 2012, The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies

[5] Pew Internet, Social networking and our lives by Keith Hampton, Lauren Sessions Goulet, Lee Rainie and Kirsten Purcell, 16 June 2012

[6] Ibid.