This winter I started working with a new client that uses a social business platform. I was asked to log on and use it. Although I had used such a platform before, I wondered if it would hold me back or add additional work to my already full day. I started using the platform and realized something: I loved it.
Forbes last week published a story about social marketing talent. The story briefly touched on the conundrum of the modern hiring manager: Is it wise to hire someone with a lot of social business experience and knowledge?
The narrative detailed the positives and negatives of hiring someone with lots of “Klout.” On one hand, according to the story, a candidate with a lot of social business experience is a “natural sharer,” ready and willing to help add benefit internally and externally. On the other, social business mavens may put their personal brand ahead of their new employer’s brand. They may also create chaos by asking too many questions.
It’s an interesting problem that doesn’t really have a one-size-fits-all answer. Every manager must make the best decision he or she can using the very thing that invariably led to that candidate’s experience: social media.
Start with LinkedIn. What kinds of groups is the candidate involved in? How frequently do they start or comment on discussion threads? What’s the overall tone of those comments? Are they effusive and positive or negative and morose? Has the candidate ever bashed or maligned previous employers or co-workers? If so, was it done in a professional manner? (Yes, it is possible to make an unfavorable comment in a supportive way.) Then take a look at your candidate’s Twitter feed and Instagram if possible. Again, how does your candidate represent him or herself in public? Is the content that’s being created smart, insightful and, most important, professional?
It will be difficult for you to assess a candidate’s internal social business efforts, especially in a climate when it’s nearly impossible to get references to confirm someone worked for them much less how they worked for them. In this case, you might ask the candidate directly about the internal social business work that he or she has done in the past. By listening carefully, you’ll have a good idea if you’ve got a potential star or rogue.
In the end, the only way to see if someone will be a good addition to the social business fabric and culture of your company is taking a chance. However now, with social business, you’ve got a little more background to work with.
According to an April 2014 SNS Research report mobile networks are generating more than 86 exabytes of traffic annually. At the same time, sales of tablets overtook sales of desktop and laptop PCs during the fourth quarter of 2013, according to IDC. This expansion of mobile technologies – in addition to the Bring-Your-Own-Device trend — is contributing to the evolution of social business. Always-on, always available computing makes it easier for employees, partners and customers to connect with a business – and with each other.
People are often confused about the term social business, using it interchangeably with social media, even at the management level. At the same time, IT often treats a social business rollout like any other software implementation. The result: Social business programs often stumble at first, a fact backed up by recent research.
Social media can help organizations pull prospects deeper into the sales funnel. Consumers, especially, are looking at social media as a way to find information about potential purchases in the form of reviews or product information. Increasingly, they’re finding this information with their mobile phones, according to a new study by the Local Search Association.
According to the study – the 2014 Local Mobile Trends Study – more than 85 percent of shoppers of all ages are using smartphones to search for information while in-store because it “helps them decide what to buy” or because “it makes them a much smarter shopper.” Another key trend: more than 62 percent of all shoppers are willing to share location for loyalty offers with 71, 68, and 64 percent of Gen Y, Gen X, and young Boomers (44 to 53) reporting this, respectively. Meanwhile, 97, 91, and 81 percent of the same demographics respectively reported they rely on their mobile device at least “sometimes” when shopping in-store.
Social marketers should consider this information when creating online communities or planning their own social outreach programs such as threading or seeding popular social sites. This data is proof that a company’s social and mobile strategies should be tied together, and that the teams working on these programs need to be communicating and planning collectively – if they already aren’t. At the very least, organizations should make sure that consumers can respond to a call to action on a mobile device. They may also want to revisit any app work they have done since, in the future, consumers may want to interact with your brand or service via a dedicated app. Finally, since the mobile Internet has overtaken desktop Internet use, all social media content should be optimized to be viewed, shared and saved via mobile device. In addition, companies should give consumers a way to create user generated content so that all those mobile shoppers have something to find when they’re searching in-store.
Late last month the web was abuzz about a new program launched by W Hotels, a professional social media concierge service for New York-based brides and grooms. The program, designed to put a the betrothed’s best face forward, covers creation and posting of content for a number of social media outlets including Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Vine. The $3,000 service even includes a custom hashtag and “guest encouragement.” While many have bemoaned the offering as over the top, W Hotels is on to something: It’s crucial to have a plan in place for a new launch, whether it’s a product, a service or a new couple. And for most organizations that means having the right internal and external communication and collaboration tools in place.
Attendees of the Human Capital Summit and Expo last week got a little advice about social media: Don’t work too hard on it unless your employees already trust your company. But the information was tempered with another piece of data: Since social media is linked to both company and employee success, gaining that trust – and fast – is something every company should shoot for, according to China Gorman, CEO of the Great Places to Work Institute.