I’ve been involved at first hand in a couple of revolutions. The first was VoIP which took 10 – 15 years to develop into full scale engagement. The second is social networking which has covered the same ground in about 3 years.
Today I went to a social networking master class conducted by Pirate Glenn @lesanto. People attended because this revolution is happening so quickly. Today felt like a WW1 recruiting session with volunteers standing in line to take up arms. Everyone needs to know where they fit in – it is unpatriotic not to be seen in uniform.
The biggest challenge for businesses is that social networking represents a totally new discipline to embrace. It covers sales, marketing, customer service, tech support, PR and more I’m sure. There may be some overlap in this list but it gives you an idea of the scope.
I’m not about to expound on how each of these disciplines should use social media but one of the problems for a business is deciding exactly how to go about it. This is new territory.
The skills required can be learned and in most cases will have to be because there aren’t many people around that might be called social media experts – witness the fact that Tesco is willing to pay £60k for someone with the right experience.
Most businesses can’t afford to take on more people just to handle social media. They have to reuse existing staff that are already working on something else.
For example a marketing department might have a team of people working on print media production. It takes a serious decision to change the way you work to stop doing one activity in order to concentrate on another but diverting resource from print media to social networking might be one of these.
I picked an easy one there – print media is on the way out but the same issue applies to other areas. Customer service for example. Big businesses are already known for the amount of effort they put in to engaging with customers using twitter. Dell supposedly had 50 people on their virtual social media team.
It’s all very well for a giant multinational but if you are a small business doing this from scratch there has to be an element of faith involved – you will be betting some of your scarce resource on the effort.
I think I’m going to explore this a bit more. If anyone wants to come along to a “workshop” I’ll happily host one and provide refreshments. Drop me a line or leave a comment. I think we can aim for a February get together. Look out a date/announcement next week.
Exit to the sound of “Two Tribes – Frankie Goes To Hollywood”…
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