By Dinte
April 16, 2013

Before the rise of social media, organizations communicated with customers mainly through advertising. Because advertising is a one way form of communication, measuring the impact isn’t easy and the voice of the customer is often lost. Today, social tools – not just social media – are reshaping the way organizations interact with customers and their employees.  Many social tools enable two-way communication and sharing of information in real-time, which allows organizations to be not only responsive, but also measure the impact of their advertising, communications, and products and services like never before.  As Dinte has experienced with many of our clients, the key is to think of social beyond its marketing and media applications.

Nilofer Merchant, in a recent Harvard Business Review webinar, The Social Rules: Communication That Will Change Your Company, agrees. Merchant suggests, “Broadly speaking, the word ‘social’ has been glued on to the word ‘media’. What that has caused is a tremendous distortion.” She explains that when we think about social always attached to the word media, it limits the reach and impact of the social tools.

Here are a few ways we’ve seen our clients leverage social beyond the expected:

•    Current and Prospective Customer Events:  Social sites such as GoToMeeting and Google+ allow organizations to broadcast interactive videos and audio to small or large groups.  This reduces travel costs and creates more flexibility for attendees.  Because it is a lower cost option, it allows organizations to test new products and services with existing and new markets.

•    Training & Development: YouTube and other video sharing sites allow organizations to upload video blogs, podcasts, or other training to be viewed at any time.  This gives employees more flexibility and can facilitate knowledge management. Additionally, learning organizations are beginning to leverage social in creative ways, particularly in executive coaching and mentoring.

•    Employee Engagement and Internal Communications: Organizations have long used social, and its predecessors, to hold meetings efficiently and cost-effectively, wherever their employees may be around the globe. Social also offers a way to stay connected, foster engagement and alignment, and bring internal communications to life. A weekly podcast from the CEO can be more impactful and somehow more personal than a mass email. Of course, having a single, global platform helps, but it certainly can be done with multiple platforms and smart devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, Nexus, Surface, Galaxy, and BlackBerry.

•    Customer Intimacy: In all likelihood, your customers are talking about your company, its brand, and its products and services on social media sites, whether you are listening or not. Developing a customer engagement strategy that includes using social and responding to customers in real-time not only creates happy customers but also provides data on how customers engage with your organization.  Passionate customers who know you are listening can be your biggest advocates.

What are other creative ways that you use social?

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