Does seeing a picture of your boss at a party on Facebook weird you out? Is your son or daughter not accepting to friend you on their social networks? We’ve definitely moved to a world where the lines are blurry. Online identities have definitely moved from anonymous to the “real me”. Interconnectedness makes identities (personal or corporate) and digital footprints have to live up to their actions. I barely delete anything these days because my fears of big brother are a thing of the past. But how best to manage the future? Be it your employees, friends, customers, brand afficionados or detractors… they participate in the “real you” too.
A bigger phenomenon though has to be taken into account by businesses when considering social media: Individuals are building their digital footprints larger and faster than companies. What to do?
- Inside: Creating a guide book for your employees would be a good start. Nothing fancy… just get it right. Everyone is an ambassador whether you want it or not. It’s your employee’s choice to join LinkedIn or add their professional credentials on other networks like Facebook or Twitter. Just coach them with the basics. Suggestions could include:
- Optimize their profile on different networks.
- Simplify your employees’ research and teach them where to be active if they wish to be so.
- Organize an internal Tweetup — that could be a great idea… see what, who is active, leverage their existing activity. Remember the groundswell technographics. Not everyone will want to play.
- [ah yeah, keep them focused on their job].
- Outside: The real ambassadors are the people. You are a public being whether you want it or not. “Here come everybody” from Clay Shirky is certainly right — “reading customers are among us”. They are creating a wealth of information out there which you should take advantage of. You may not have the ability to identify and energize the best of your customer base and brand aficionados.
- Listen and learn: Measure and monitor conversations about your brand and competitors’ brands – Use Google Alerts, FiltrBox, OneRiot, Topsy, Radian6, CollectiveIntellect and the other millions of search tools inside each network… You’ll learn to intercept conversations and participate (the new ‘respond’) more efficiently.
- Engaging: Social media is not (yet) for everyone but Gen Y is making it pervasive. You’ve probably been in a meeting or with friends where someone pulled the buzz joke: “are you tweeting this?” …then every body laughs. It has the same feel as when people started to have cell phones and answer in public places. Everyone got weirded out but this is long gone and new methods of communication are coming fast e.g. Google Wave – Here I suggest that you test the waters as long as you’re are open and clear with your intents and the community. Follow the passion trail to build creative social media programs. It’s clear that old methods won’t work and may even step outside the law: Trying to get an influential blogger promote your brand is rightfully getting looked at by the FTC.
Here is everybody. You (brand) are not alone. Your constituents are your best assets.
How do you deal with those identities? What does make sense for you and your business?
We’re all connected now.