I went to lunch recently with some managers at my organization. As usual, I couldn’t help but bring up the topic of social media and how we as managers can leverage those tools to the organization’s benefit. I hit a road block. Or, rather a concrete wall.
“I just don’t get Twitter… I don’t care what somebody had for lunch. I don’t care. I don’t get it.”
“My kids spend so much time on Facebook. I don’t get that either.”
So, what’s the problem? They don’t get it.
Now, I have a choice. I can complain that they don’t get it, or I can find away around the concrete wall. I choose to keep going. I do understand what’s going on in this situation. These managers have a set of tools on their tool belts that have served them well for many years. They don’t have an urgent pain or an immediate need they can’t mitigate with their familiar, well worn, tools. There is no new pain, problem or need.
The marketplace always has a way of creating pain, problems and needs. Sometimes, it comes as a crisis – painful and urgent. When the worst occurs, that is not the time to realize the limitations of the old tools and scramble to find new tools.
I said, I have a choice. I said I choose to keep going. I understand new/social media. Some managers don’t. I will try to educate them on the benefits of the new tools.
These may be the old standards managers have been dealing with for years. Techniques, tools, and rules are always changing. Like any tool, social media can be used for good or for bad. If the manager is managerially risk tolerant, they will probably want to experiment to see how social media can be used for a competitive advantage. If the manager is risk averse and unwilling to explore the social media tools, they run the risk of having social media tools used against them. Then when a crisis occurs, they will be struggling to play catch up.
In a proactive form, social media can be used to foster relationships with customer and even highlight a cadre of evangelists for your product or service. These evangelists can react quickly in support of the company, in near real time, when a crisis occurs. A company can use the social media tools to go where the customers are rather than wait for the customers to come to the company.
Used defensively, social media tools can highlight issues before they gain enough momentum to gain negative media attention. Social media tools can help the company scan the far horizon for trouble. Conversations about your company are taking place in social media all the time. Why wouldn’t you want to be aware of what’s being said?
With all that said, I am committing to leading a seminar in our corporate auditorium to educate people about social media tools. Whether the managers are risk tolerant or risk averse in nature, we, as an organization, will be better off for it.