Social media has transformed virtually every area of our lives. That’s an understatement, I know, but it is humorous to remember way back – oh, say five years ago – when curmudgeonly corporate execs and know-it-all pundits labeled social media as a fad. Unbelievably many still do, and they are becoming as relevant as cassette tapes.
However, while social media is a force, it is also true it can’t do everything. The understanding of how social media benefits organizational communications ranges broadly. Some have leveraged its power for either their for-profit or non-profit organizations while others throw in a little social media and expect miracles. Hint: Social media is not pixie dust.
Those who have integrated social media into a larger marketing communications strategy would testify it has positively transformed business. With good reason; it has. Endless examples dot the corporate landscape with new success stories cropping up every day.
That said, social media can’t do everything. Here are three things social media can’t do for an organization.
1. Social media can’t improve a “widget.”
It makes no difference what the widget is. It may be a product, service or a cause, depending upon the type of organization. If what an organization- aw, why mince words – sucks at what it does, no amount of social media will improve quality. However, the social media response from an organization’s constituency may force improved quality quickly or it will become the sword that strikes the final blow. Organization that want to reap a social media benefit should first concentrate on producing a quality widget, then they have something worth sharing.
2. Socia media can’t improve customer service
Absolutely, social media has significantly enhanced and transformed the customer service experience and any organization that sees social media, customer service and successful marketing as inter-related is in for a deeper level of customer connectedness. But what I’m talking about is an attitude. Organizations who don’t truly value their constituents don’t really offer customer service, they tolerate “customer obligations.” There is no sense of value for the people who support the organization. I’ve had three encounters over the past week with organizations (businesses) like this. There are too many other places to eat and shop who do care, and who do enhance the customer service experience through social media.
3. Social media can’t provide leadership
Firing off pithy Tweets does not a leader make. In fact, social media can actually expose the disparity between what a leader says and what he or she actually does. It can reveal a character gap. All employees would much rather have a man or woman of character who didn’t use social media than a socially active “leader” in name only. That said, social media in the hands of a true leader can be a powerful tool. I recently wrote how leaders can improve employee motivation, and social media plays an important role in that.
Social media can make an immeasurably positive difference in the effectiveness of an organization’s ability to communicate and interact with its various stakeholders – thereby impacting “the bottom line,” but it can’t compensate for poor quality and poor leadership.
And if quality and leadership suck, it might be better for an organization to steer clear of social media. It’s only a matter of time before it becomes a relic…just like the pundits and their cassette tapes.