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The media is littered with horror stories demonstrating where individuals in large organisations have got it wrong, the circus of wonders all too quickly turning into the circus of horrors.  Despite this, brands can’t stand still and ignore social, otherwise they face a certain future – one where they are left behind by their competitors. Last year’s headline act, fallen from favour.

One thing is clear – the very nature of what it means to ‘do business’ is  changing, and the convergence of the once separate consumer and B2B mentalities is already happening; if not in terms of products, then at the very least in how brands market themselves and communicate with their various audiences. This in turn is reflected in what customers want to see in the organisation’s show. What’s clear is that people want brand authenticity and not watered down corporate messaging.  They want to identify with the brand, understand the value it can bring to them, and also be entertained at the same time. There’s a fine (tightrope) line to walk.

One way of doing this is to give your brand a face, or faces. People who understand the organisation’s vision and who have the ability to deliver it across social channels. Organisations need their execs to be entrenched in social in order to give an authentic voice that is both personable and relevant to their business requirements, professional yet human. After taking a cautious approach to social, Oracle’s very own President, Mark Hurd, joined the ranks of LinkedIn Influencers, creating his own compelling and authentic conversations. The process of discovering, himself, the value of becoming socially active, was powerful beyond measure.

So, how do we alleviate the fears of execs? By up-skilling them with simple and practical techniques.

1)    Listen. This is a skill that most senior execs have used to get to where they are today. Get them to apply the same principle to social media. By listening to the myriad of performances that are going on around them and the brand they can themselves gauge what works and what doesn’t.

2)    Be a good social neighbour, and pass around the popcorn. Show them the value of interacting with their peers first, and then with partners and customers, and even competitors. Teach them that the purpose of social media is to positively change the way we communicate, and that it’s not about counting likes and shares. It shouldn’t be about them or the organisation on a stage, performing to a static audience. This is improve (but with some structure behind it).

3)    Have a safety net. Don’t start your social media marketing output on a huge project. Instead start with bite sized projects where impact can be easily measured. Agree messaging and stories in advance and make it clear what is appropriate to go external and what isn’t. Once you’ve tested, you will be able to implement larger campaigns.

The fact is, resistance to social is futile.  Fifteen years ago people referred to ‘e-business’; a concept that over time simply became all business. The same can be said of social marketing.  It’s only a matter of time before all organisations are completely entrenched in social as part of their daily working habits. 

Executives need to stop being afraid of negatively impacting the share price, and start concerning themselves with having a positive effect on the commercial outcomes social can drive.

So many so called ‘experts’ tell us that social ROI isn’t a metric that’s possible to measure, but I disagree – it absolutely is. And what better way to get the board to sit up and take notice than to prove to them the monetary value?