Friday Oct 12, 2012

The Social Enterprise: Gangnam Style

chalkboardAre only small and medium businesses able to put social strategies in place, generate consistent, compelling content for customers, and be nimble enough to listen and respond to the social communities they build? Or are enterprise organizations eagerly and effectively adopting social as well?

It depends on whom inside the organization you ask. A study from Attensity looked at who “gets” social inside enterprise organizations. The results were unsurprising. Mostly, Generation X and Y employees who came of age with social as part of their lives and as a key communications vehicle understand it.

Imagine being a 25-year-old at a company that bans employees from accessing Facebook at work. You may as well tell them they can’t use phones and must do all calculations on an abacus. To them, such policy is absent of real-world logic and signals to them the organization is destined to be the victim of an up-and-comer.

After that, it’s senior management that gets social. You don’t get to be in senior management without reading a few things and paying attention. Most senior managers are well aware of the impact social has had and will have, though they may be unsure of what to do about it.

The better ones will utilize those on the inside who do inherently know how to communicate and build virtual relationships using social. The very best will get the past out of the way for these social innovators, so the new communications can be enacted minus counterproductive dictums, double-clutching, meeting-creep, and all the other fading internal practices that water down content and impede change.

Organizationally, the Attensity study found 81% of enterprise companies believe failing to embrace social will result in their being left behind. Yet our old friend fear still has many captive in its clutches. 79% feel overwhelmed by the volume of social data available, something a social technology partner with goal-oriented analytics expertise could go a long way toward alleviating.

Afraid manThen there’s the fear of social having a negative impact. This comes from a lack of belief in the product, the customer service, or both. The public uses social not to go out and slay brands. They’re using it to be honest. If the fear is that honesty will reflect badly on the brand, the brand has much bigger, broader problems than what happens on Facebook.

Sadly, most enterprise organizations still see social as a megaphone, a one-way channel with which to hit people with ads. They either don’t understand social relationships, or don’t want any. The truly unenlightened manager will always say, “We help them by selling them our stuff.” “Brand affinity” is a term, it’s just not one assigned much value in enterprise organizations.

Which brings us to Psy, the Korean performer whose Internet video phenom “Gangnam Style,” as of this writing, has been viewed 438,550,238 times on YouTube. It’s bigger than anything a brand will probably ever publish. Most brands would never have seen the point of making or publishing it.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Internet success. The video literally doubled the stock price of Psy’s father’s software firm. NH Investment and Securities said, "The positive sentiment has attracted investors just because of the fact the company is owned by Psy's father and uncle.” The company wasn’t mentioned or seen in the video in any way, yet reaped tangible rewards just for being tangentially associated with it. Imagine your brand being visibly and directly responsible for such a smash and tell me it’s worthless.

When enterprise organizations embrace the value of igniting passions, making people happier, solving their problems, informing them, helping them have fun, etc., then they will have fully embraced social, and will reap the brand affinity rewards of heightened awareness, brand loyalty and yes, sales.

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