We live in a World where we, our staff, our clients, our users are connected close to 24/7 (well unless you are in one of the countries who have mandated that staff switch off work communications after 5:00pm). A message sent to a handful of people can go global in minutes. A poor experience of one person can be heard of by thousands.
Social media has a number of consequences for your brand – and whether you are a bank, food retailer, hospital or local authority many of the lessons to be learned are the same.
Authenticity: There is no use pretending to be what you are not. If you state values then live them throughout your organisation or don’t state them at all. Trying to pretend in a connected World will catch up with you – quickly and publicly.
Consistency: Your values and your practices need to be embedded from top to bottom of your organisation and from end to end of your operations – from the first time you deal with supplier to the last moment you interact with a customer. Make sure your organisation is consistent – everyone in it, or even supplying it, has the potential to damage or enhance your brand. One rule for management and one for staff, or one for your organisation and another for its suppliers will quickly be seen through.
Clarity: If you are to be authentic and consistent then you need razor sharp focus on what it is you really stand for. If senior management cannot understand, articulate and live your values clearly then how can your staff ever do that – and how can your clients ever identify with it.
Communications: Having made sure you have clarity and authenticity if you want to make it consistent you are going to need to communicate this. Make sure the communications are consistent internally and externally – but of course, the very social media tools and practices which can provide problems when you get it wrong give you ever more tools to communicate with your staff and users.
Empowerment: You can suffer major damage to your brand in hours, possibly minutes. Increasingly you need to empower your staff to tackle issues as and when they occur – otherwise the speed of opprobrium on social media will outpace that of getting an answer from head office of comms.
Listening: A totally connected World is fraught with dangers for your brand – but the very customers or users who will happily widely publicise it when you get things wrong will readily give you feedback on how they find you, relate with and treat them. Learn to spend less time defending and justifying and a lot more time listening to and acting on feedback.
So what is the lesson to pull from this. You are far more connected to your staff and users than ever before. Be authentic and use every day and every part of your organisation as a chance to listen and learn.