Last weekend I had the chance to visit with some corporate-world people whose opinions I value about Snack Bars & Social Media in the workplace. (Ok, they were my siblings.) One is a software engineer for a large food producer, one works for an international hotel chain, and one works for a regional bank. All of them said that their respective employers do not permit any form of social media (blogging, facebook, twitter) on the corporate networks.
None of them saw the value of a company permitting even limited use of the technologies at work. I told them about IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines and that company’s stance on employee participation in social media. The banker told me about an article that said banks shouldn’t use Facebook for marketing, because the audience doesn’t want to be hammered with marketing information all of the time.
No kidding. The traditional marketing approach of shouting at customers is not what Social Media is all about. It is all about conversations, not about one way broadcasting. My banker sister challenged me to describe a way that banks could effectively participate in Facebook and other social media. I asked her what sort of messages banks try to convey in traditional marketing efforts and suggested that new social media could also send these same messages but in a different way.
This week I had the opportunity to sit down to visit with Grant Griffiths, a guy I am continually learning from. He says:
“Social Media Marketing is more proactive. You’re actually doing something on the Internet to try and generate traffic to you and usually it’s in the form of providing information… You really want to become known as the place to go for answers for whatever you are blogging about.
So if you are a banker wanting to use social media for marketing, it makes sense to blog about the financial questions that potential customers might have. If you can offer helpful advice, it becomes a win/win situation. Facebook could be used as a form of blog by posting notes pages about your blogging ideas. Or you could keep a separate blog, then link to it through your Facebook profile.
In any case, a professional who effectively engages in Web 2.0 discussions can represent the corporation in a very positive light, and put a human face on what might otherwise be perceived as a soul-less organization. The corporation who discourages these discussions simply keeps people wondering about what goes on inside and what sort of people work there. These corporations also miss opportunities to respond to complaints and criticisms that are bound to crop up.
For further information Common Craft has an excellent video series that explains several related ideas in an easy to understand format. This video talks about Social Media in general.
Explore the possibilities and embrace the social media. If you don’t, just hope your competition doesn’t either.