Seeking forgiveness

In a number of meetings and discussions today the quality of content delivered through social networks was highlighted. Four or five years ago social media users were more forgiving of organisations and businesses who were stepping into the new digital world. If things went wrong or the right tone wasn’t used there was some acceptance that it was such a new phenomenon that everyone was learning. ¬†But I am not sure the same is true today.

People are now more digital savvy and have been using social networks for some time. Organisations and businesses are now seen as behind the times if they haven’t stepped into the digital world. If companies then get the tone wrong or don’t understand the conventions of social media there is only a small amount of forgiveness. People’s expectations have risen dramatically.

I am relieved that we started the journey to use social media four years ago which has put us in a much better position now. In the early days the usage of social media was nowhere near what it is today and that helped. Now, people have a short fuse and only a small amount of patience when information or messages aren’t working.

So, what can people do now if they are behind the curve but need to get involved in the social networks?

Firstly, be really clear why they are going to use social media and know what they want to achieve by using it. It may be customer service, it may be engagement, it may be to sell something. Whatever it is make sure that you know and have articulated what it is as this will make the strategy for use much easier to develop.

Secondly, spend some time learning and understanding the different networks before ever stepping into them. Learn from others, look at what is being done, read about the use of social networks.

Thirdly, have a strategy that identifies what you will do and how you will do it. Use your knowledge of your organisation and the networks to define the road you are going to take.

Fourthly, get support to achieve the goals. It may mean getting some new people in, or it might be better to adequately train existing staff so that they can turn the strategy into action.

Finally, be prepared to take some risks and to apologise if things don’t go the right way. But always be clear that there will be a small number of times when things go wrong, learn, develop, reassess the strategy but above all make sure you continue.

People will be supportive if you have invested some time in understanding the world they inhabit and then things go wrong. They are not supportive when you blunder in and hope for the best.

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