Monday, February 14, 2011

Social Media vs. Social Intelligence

I’m sure we’re all getting bombarded by Facebook and Twitter information from people calling themselves “Social Media experts”. If you’re like me, it’s getting to the point where you ask yourself how much “social” is too much “social”?

This brings us to today’s topic: What exactly is “social media" and what does it do for me?

“Social Media” is defined by Wikipedia as “the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue”. In other words, everyone using Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Linkedin, etc are using and contributing to “social media”. If you’re a bit more advanced and are “blogging”, then you’re contributing to the social media explosion.

Today’s businesses are just beginning to realize the role social media is currently playing and will continue to evolve into in the future. Where in past years, if you had a bad experience with a merchant or ate a bad meal at a restaurant, you’d tell a few close friends and relatives and that would be the end of it. Very little real effect took place on the business reputation, good or bad.

Today, people may have thousands of followers on Twitters, making it as simple as picking up their Blackberry or iPhone, logging into Twitter, and writing a quick one sentence review of their experience. This review quickly reaches all their followers and with “re-tweeting”, there’s no way to count how many people are notified of an experience with a business, good or bad. The results can be devastating to a reputation or fantastic for a company, depending on the temperament of the Tweet.

Here’s where “Social Intelligence” comes in. Businesses need to more than just follow their reputations with free services like Google alerts, or Trackle alerts. The business may or may not capture all of their social mentions with these services, but the bigger question now becomes what do you do with them?

The consumers must be engaged in order to gain value from the social media explosion. Social intelligence is the knowledge of how to handle the conversation about your business.  It includes having a  plan in place to respond immediately to comments once you find them, both positive and negative and requires many companies to employ a full-time staff to address this. It includes developing pro-active campaigns to improve or direct the conversation about your brand.  It may drive business to your website. There are many components of social intelligence. Far too many to address here...

It’s a fact in today’s tight economic market that many companies can’t (or won’t) expend the resources to hire additional personnel to handle this aspect of their business, and their current group of employees is either too busy or not trained to deal with the social media explosion.  It’s the current and next generation of employees (recent college grads and those students still in college, high school, and middle school) who will be coming into the workplace fully engaged with the need and skills to work in social intelligence.

Think back 10 years ago…..pre-requisite for employment may have read something like “working knowledge of MS Word, Excel, & Powerpoint a plus”. Today’s job listings might include something like..”at least 5 years of Twitter, Facebook, and blogging experience a must”.

Scared? You’re not alone.

There are solutions available today to help you through attaining and successfully developing and using social intelligence to help your business profits move forward as technology continues to evolve.  If you’d like more information on how to manage your company’s social intelligence programs, please contact me.

I’d enjoy hearing any other solutions or comments you may have so please leave your comments and forward to any friends or colleagues you may feel are interested in “social intelligence”.

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