Social Media? – It means the world to me!

When I was asked recently  “What does Social Media mean to you?” I answered off the top of my head and instantly – It Means the World to Me! I always try now to answer in Twitter speak concise and engaging….

This may sound trite and perhaps sarcastic – but I mean it!

Social Media means the world on so many fronts. For a start Access to the World geographically and demographically.  This week on LinkedIn I hit 10 million plus in my Three Degrees.

What does this mean – If I get an important message to my 800 plus direct connects and they each do the same and their connections followup as well…  That message will hit 10 million worldwide in an instant for zero cost to me.

If only I had something that important to say!!

But it also means the world in terms of access to your world – business and /or social.

It means unprecedented access to people you don’t know. People who may be interested in what you have to say.

But don’t take my word for it

“Technology is shifting Power away from the editors, the publishers, the establishment and the media elite.  Now its the People who are in Control.”               Rupert Murdoch

It doesn’t matter if your “world” is around the corner or around the world you can access it now without relying on the heritage media.

It’s not just about access to broadcast a message though … its more about reaching people who are listening and ready to engage.

So define your audience and craft your messages specifically for them and then let people listen …  but they will only listen if your message interests them. And if they listen it doesn’t matter where in the world they are … they will find you!!

But you must also listen before jumping in.

When I deliver Sales training I explain the most important skill in sales is the art of listening by telling people to look in the mirror and see if they know why…

Well you do have two ears and only one mouth…God must have been telling you something…. is my answer!!

But there is much more to making sales using digital media – Social Media is a key part … but only a part.  You need to surround and support it with Listening Web Pages (more about that later), Search Engine Marketing, Social CRM, AdWords etc etc.

But your the world can find you if you are prepared to listen rather than shout.

Are you herding cattle or cats?

I recently came a across a blog by Chad Levitt who likened the changing approach to marketing and sales, esp in B2B, to herding cats when we are used to herding cattle. Chad Levitt is the author of the New Sales Economy blog that focuses on how sales 2.0, social, and inbound marketing can be used as a sales strategy for the Web 2.0 world.

As Chad says “The first thing about herding cats is….. “don’t let anybody tell you it’s easy!” If you’ve ever tried to herd a cat you know it’s damn hard. And anyone can herd cattle — they are slow, stodgy, and like to be told what to do. Cats are nimble, quick, and verrrrry hard to corner – so are our customers today. The parallel is that the majority of sales and marketing organizations are still trying to herd cattle, when the marketplace has changed to herding cats.”

I certainly think herding cats makes a very good analogy for the B2B marketplace today.

A key ingredient in herding cats is to supply the food they are seeking and this comes in the form of useful information… blogs, videos etc.

For some time I have been concerned that the people at the fuzzy end of business (PR, Marketing) believe they should control Social Media because it is about Communication.  But given they are the masters (along with Advertising) of one-way communication why should they?

Traditionally in business the best listeners and builders of dialogue are in Sales and Customer Service. While Marketing defines the what and who of sales it is the seller and the after sales servicer that pick up the How …  so who better equipped to understand what the market really expects of a business.

And then there are the internal “cats” how can they be harnessed to support the marketing efforts. Well that’s where HR comes in to develop and define policies on the internal and external use of Social Media. There are heaps of potential brand advocates within a business but they need to be told what they can and cant say.  An Outcomes focussed policy that encourages the use of Social Media can enable this rather than inhibit it!

So right now we have ”cats” everywhere looking for “food” from business but very few are producing the right “food” as they are leaving the “food” production to the wrong people. PR/Marketing traditionally sow the crops and hope for a good season or two….   While it is Sales and Service who are responsible for the harvesting and bear the brunt when a bad season comes along or PR/Marketing has decided to sow the wrong crop.

To try to fathom the best approach to implementing a good approach to Social media in business I recently ran a poll in LinkedIn asking:

Who should “own” responsibility for Social Media In Business environment? Who is best to Listen, Converse, Engage and Convert?

The somewhat surprising result given most of my LinkedIn connections are in PR and Marketing was the formation of a new cross functionality entity.

For more details on the poll http://polls.linkedin.com/poll-results/90949/uuhos

What do you think? How should such an approach be implemented?

In the meantime I will keep my focus on driving Social Media by focussing on Sales outcomes not just building Communities and Conversations.