Social Media is a powerful tool in engaging, mobilising, and organising communities around specific goals and initiatives. Its viral and social nature allow for an easy, and cost efficient way of spreading your message to a willing audience. Organisations must start to use social media to leverage their permission marketing capacity, and begin to harness quality feedback and support from a willing community of like-minded people. Engaging with a committed audience puts your organisation in a unique position that allows them to do the following:
- Improve services and service delivery
- Share content with their friends willingly
- Influence people to join movements
- Create characters and champions
- Provide a place to gather social media intelligence
However the key to having a well-run, well-organised social media machine is in building lasting relationships with the communities you lead by harnessing the power of Social media Intelligence.
Being Online Means Being Social
In the late 80’s and early 90’s the first version of the Internet also known as Web 1.0, was fairly popular attracting 45 million users globally, and had around 250,000 registered websites. Web 2.0, which is the current version of the Internet, has over 1 billion global users and over 634 million (and counting) registered websites. What happened to the Internet that caused it to become so popular and cement itself as an indispensable tool in our lives? It‘s simple: it became friendlier and easier for everyone. Web 1.0 was about producing content for consumption only and Web 2.0 is about producing content for active participation and sharing. Therefore the basis of the Internet is about sharing and active participation, and real success on the Internet is governed by how well an organisation can facilitate that for its audience. Many organisations feel/felt alienated by the Internet because of the nature of their industry. Industries like Government, Health and Mining are still feeling their way around the medium and are slowly coming round to using it well. There is a real need for these industries to start learning how to use social media to their advantage, and it starts with understanding that being successful online means being facilitators of active participation.
Social Media should be about leading a Community
Most organisations have seen the benefits of having a social media presence and are starting to take real steps towards using it effectively as a successful communications tool. However, most people put themselves under pressure to have millions of followers or create the next Gangnam style. This pressure unfortunately has resulted in the creation of numerous Social Media “Ghost Towns” (accounts that exist but have no activity) and many organisations quitting after feeling inadequate, or disheartened, by the “lack” of activity on their pages. Admittedly it can be difficult to work the Social Media machine but that’s because most of us go about it the wrong way. Social Media should be about leading a community and learning how to talk to them. Too often we are to broad with our message and can alienate our audience by seemingly talking to someone else. This often happens when we create content that does not resonate with them at all. To curb this we need to be intelligent.
Social Media Intelligence
Social media intelligence is insight gained into the people you serve by collecting key information from social media platforms. This information includes the following:
- Their likes and dislikes.
- The content they respond to and ignore.
- Some of their issues and interests.
- The touch-points you share
- Their true feelings about your service
The key is then to leverage this information in your favour and use it to improve their lives or online experience. This two-way style of communication benefits both parties as on one hand your audience gains quality information and you gain knowledge on how to serve.
At the end of the day, social media is about people not profiles and statistics. It’s the people you communicate with that determine how you should use it and if you’re using it well. If you are on social media start gathering intelligence and use that information to develop better relationships with your community. If your aren’t on social media it is important to note that creating an online presence alone won’t suddenly make an organisation more social. The question for an organisation to ask is not whether to use social media. The question to ask is how to make your organisation more engaging. An antisocial organisation using social media is still an antisocial organisation.