Chris Brogan posted a great piece on what he calls “The Undiscovered Country of Presence Management.” If you’re a leader in marketing or corporate communications, it’s worth a read. Brogan’s main point is that engaging online is a management function. You can do it high tech or high touch…or not at all. He says:
“In fact, think of it like this: a website is more like an automated phone tree, you know, “for English, press 1.” Social web presence is more like giving out everyone’s direct line.
Let that sink in. It’s every bit as much work to manage the relationships that come with online presence as it is to answer your phone without the robots to block people’s attempts. The payoffs are about the same, though. People appreciate the human touch of reaching someone online and having a “real” interaction. It might cost a little more, but it really shows a different level of care and service.
Is your company ready for that? Could your organization see shucking the phone tree in exchanged for a heightened sense of business contact?
“Just having one person on the “phone”,” Brogan concludes, “will rarely be the right answer.”
I’ve seen a strong temptation of clients to see social media as a lead and sales generation tool, and while that approach isn’t flat out wrong, it misses the part of being involved in communities — whether local, industry or client communities — that is simply part of managing any profitable enterprise, across multiple parts and functions of the business. To whit:
The issue isn’t Return on Investment. It’s keeping your eyes and ears open to customer and market conversations that, before social media, wouldn’t let you in. It’s being where your customers are, sniffing out potential crises before they happen and managing them when they do.
The issue isn’t time. If you are responsible for sales, and you know that customers and prospects hold regular meetings about your products, your competitors’ products, or the types of problems they solve, wouldn’t you go? Why wouldn’t you be there online?
The issue isn’t just for marketing and PR. As Brogan points out, social media is an issue for customer service and sales. You might as well add business development, partner relations, channel management, public relations, community relations, investor relations, and, yes, marketing, too.
Check out Brogan’s Part 2– it’s sure to be valuable.